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News » Detroit Pistons Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Detroit Pistons Getting Inside 2008-06-30

Detroit Pistons Getting Inside 2008-06-30
When an NBA team drafts a mystery man, the label is usually placed on a foreign player. Walter Sharpe has lived in the southern United States all of his life, but there are a lot of questions surrounding the Pistons' top draft pick.

Detroit traded out of the first round, swapping its No. 29 overall pick to Seattle for two second-rounders, the No. 32 and No. 46 overall selections. The Pistons were planning to take the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Sharpe before a call from Seattle three minutes before the pick was due changed their strategy.

The Sonics wanted Indiana senior power forward D.J. White. Sharpe was still on the board three picks later, and the Pistons also picked up 6-11 BYU forward Trent Plaisted in the trade. The Pistons are hoping that Sharpe, who appeared in just 18 college games over the past four years, can earn a rotation spot as a backup small forward.

"There were a couple of teams that were feverishly trying to move up to get him," Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. "This is not just an automatic D-League guy."

Sharpe was diagnosed last fall with narcolepsy, which led to his academic issues. Before the season, he was one of five UAB players arrested by Birmingham police for disorderly conduct at a dance club.

After completing high school in 2004, Sharpe committed to Mississippi Sate but didn't play his first year. He missed a team flight and served suspensions for being late to meetings and practices. He played six games in 2005-06 there before he was dismissed from the team.

The Pistons are convinced that Sharpe's problems were related to his narcolepsy. They did extensive background checks on him before the draft.

"Some of his early issues, they didn't know what was going on, they didn't understand what was happening with him," Dumars said. "They thought it was just a kid not being responsible. He's taking medication for it now and has not had trouble ever since.

"I don't want to put all of it on that -- he was probably young and immature at some point -- but just finding out what was wrong, he said it's changed his entire life."

Sharpe turned heads at the Pistons' practice facility during a workout. They brought him in for an extra day, just to make sure he wasn't a "one-day wonder." Dumars describes him as a long, smooth player who can really can handle the ball and shoot it.

"When you're picking that late in the first round or early second round, you try to find talent that shouldn't be there," he said. "He's real, real talented."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: With point guard Chauncey Billups out with a strained right hamstring, rookie Rodney Stuckey showed the nation in Game 5 of the conference semifinals why the Pistons believe they got a steal with the No. 15 pick in last June's draft.

Stuckey had 15 points and six assists in the Pistons' 91-86 closeout victory over Orlando. Just as significant, Stuckey had no turnovers in 33 minutes as the team set an NBA single-game playoff record with just three turnovers. Antonio McDyess' 17-point, 11-rebound performance was even more inspirational. Before the game, McDyess learned that his grandmother had died.

TURNING POINT: After handing Boston its first home loss of the postseason in Game 2 of the conference finals, the Pistons played listlessly in Game 3 at The Palace two nights later.

Boston scored the game's first 11 points and led by as many as 24 in its 94-80 victory. The Pistons never recovered from gaining and then giving up home-court advantage in just 48 hours.

"At one point we got the home-court advantage, and didn't take advantage of it," power forward Antonio McDyess said. "We come out and play like we're just going to step on the court and win at the beginning of Game 3 here. It didn't go down the way we expected it to, and we have to pay for it."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 30, 2008


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