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What will 2024 sharpshooter Ishan Sharma bring for UVA basketball?

The Class of 2024 recruit is the latest in a tradition of great Virginia movement shooters

The Virginia Cavaliers landed a commitment from 2024 recruit Ishan Sharma, a 6’4 shooting guard from the Canadian Fort Erie International Academy. Sharma first visited the ‘Hoos during the Blue-White scrimmage.

Sharma bears all the hallmarks of a traditional undervalued Virginia recruit: the Cavaliers locked down the Indo-Canadian sharpshooter before other major programs identified his talent; his biggest offer before the Cavaliers came calling came from Seton Hall. He’s a knockdown movement shooter in the Kyle Guy mold with the potential to provide major offensive contributions for UVA during his time in Charlottesville.

How Sharma fits in with the Cavaliers

Sharma’s jump shooting put him on the map as a prospect. He’s an outstanding shooter off the catch, with the ability to elevate and knock down threes on kick-outs as well as swing passes around the perimeter. The skill to get into his jumper from anywhere beyond the arc should serve Sharma well in the Virginia offensive scheme. Starting at 1:03 in the video below, he knocks down two quick-trigger catch-and-shoot threes with the ball moving side to side.

From watching footage of Sharma, he almost seems to prefer using a rhythm dribble to get into his jump shot rather than shooting directly off the catch. Given the opportunity to handle the ball, Sharma’s go-to move is beating his defender left and pulling up for a jumper — the highlight clip below from Ballers Bridge shows him hitting a stepback three, but he also creates plenty of more efficient threes with a better base.

It’s no surprise that Sharma shot 44% from three on over seven attempts per game at the 2023 EYBL Peach Jam for UPlay Canada. Everything about his shot, from the consistent and quick mechanics to the ability to shoot in a variety of game situations, projects at the college level. Sharma views himself as an effective movement shooter at the college level, and has already said he models his game after Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome.

Whether Sharma can develop beyond a jump shooter remains to be seen. He’s never had the opportunity to play as a true point guard at a high level, and projects as more of an off-ball guard. The finishing needs to improve: Sharma shot below 40% inside the arc at Peach Jam. At 6’4 his positional size is solid; he’ll need to bulk up for the college game, but so does every high school prospect, and there’s no reason for concern in that department. There’s no honest way to draw real conclusions about his defensive potential from highlight videos of the U17 World Cup and EYBL season — if Sharma stood out on that end as either very good or very bad, other evaluators would make note of it, so it’s reasonable to expect that he’s an average defender right now.

All things considered, Sharma looks a lot like Isaac McKneely coming out of high school. There will be less familiarity with the Virginia system — Sharma has no experience in a mover-blocker system or the pack line defense, while McKneely’s high school program at Poca basically served as a prep school for the UVA schemes — which may make the transition to college ball for Sharma less rapid than McKneely’s. But Sharma absolutely has the potential to be an offensive threat whose shooting commands defensive attention every single possession on a very good college basketball team.