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Scout's Take: ESPN 100 Sharma picks Stanford

10/22/2014

ESPN 100 big man Josh Sharma made a verbal commitment to Stanford on Tuesday, just two days after wrapping up his official visit. Sharma had previously narrowed his list to Stanford, Boston College, and Wisconsin. Here's a look at what Sharma brings to the Cardinal:

Why he committed: Sharma is a unique prospect who combines a high ceiling on the basketball floor with an already high academic profile. "I was definitely looking for a high academic school with great basketball," Sharma told ESPN.com. "So what other school than Stanford? They just have so much to offer." The fact that Sharma's game might actually be a better fit in the Pac-12 also wasn't totally lost on him, even if that wasn't the primary driving force behind his decision.

What he brings: He's 6-foot-11, runs the floor like a deer, and gets above the rim with extraordinary athleticism for a player his size. While he hasn't necessarily turned potential into production quite as quickly as some would like, that's not uncommon for big men, and he's made clear strides in recent years. His most immediate contribution will be as a shot-blocker, while he'll also add value as a rim-runner and finisher. Long term though, he's the type of prospect who could really blossom as he continues to develop his skills and establishes an identity to his offensive game.

How he fits: Sharma joins current freshmen Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey to give Stanford a great nucleus of young and talented big men. His length and athleticism are the ideal complement to Travis' rugged interior game and Humphrey's skilled face-up arsenal, and while he'll have the benefit of being brought along slowly, ultimately he has the potential to anchor the team's defense like no one else on their roster and so his role should consistently evolve and increase. Offensively, his growing versatility -- not just as a finisher but also as someone who is beginning to establish his outside jumper -- will allow him to play next to either player.

How the class is shaping up: With Robert Cartwright and Dorian Pickens joining Reid and Humphrey in Stanford's current freshmen class, there was already a highly talented young core in place. The 2015 class was more about finding strategic complements to that group. Stanford's prior two commitments, from Cameron Walker and Marcus Sheffield respectively, accomplish that along with Sharma. Walker is a 6-foot-7 forward who can play multiple positions and plug a variety of different holes on the front line while Sheffield provides a long and athletic presence on the wing that was otherwise lacking.

Who he reminds us of: Sharma grew up in the northeast and is now headed west to play his college basketball. Ironically, he's similar to another big man who grew up out west and came east to play his college basketball. Former UConn center Travis Knight came up the ranks in Utah before making the move across the country. Like Sharma he was a runner and jumper who could finish, block shots, and make mid-range jumpers but was rarely a low-post scoring threat with his back to the basket.