What if you were told that the nation’s assist leader for the majority of the year only had one division one offer? Where do you think he would’ve attended? Air Force? BYU? Maine? But what if I told you that the school he ended up attending is nearly 900 miles away from his home and coached by Kentucky legend Scott Padgett?
Well that school is Samford. And the player is Josh Sharkey.
Sharkey is a 5’10, 175-pound senior point guard from Archbishop Carroll High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In high school, he played with current Saint Joseph’s guard Ryan Daly, leading them to the state title where they lost by two against Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble-led Neumann-Goretti.
Sharkey gained a lot of interest from other schools during his high school career, but no one other than Samford offered.
“We have a team full of guys that were overlooked and us being underdogs in the SoCon gives us an extra chip on our shoulder,” Sharkey said. “We feel like we have something to prove.”
And it’s almost guaranteed that Sharkey has proved his worth to the 352 other head coaches around the nation. Through Jan. 15th, Sharkey is ranked second in the country in both assist rate and assists per game, he is also 15th in steal percentage.
The senior guard has cemented his name in Samford history for his ball tactics. Although the Bulldogs haven’t made the postseason in the time he’s attended, he set the university’s assist and steal records with a lot of time to spare. He currently stands at 669 assists and 254 steals with at least fifteen games left in his Bulldogs career. Sharkey also has scored over 1,000 points in his time in Homewood.
Check out Samford Bulldogs point guard Josh Sharkey turning defense into offense with a steal and finishing the fast break with a no look pass to Robert Allen for the dunk @SamfordMBB defeated Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers 68-42 @CBS_42 @jsharkey_3 @RobertMAllen21 #AllForSAMford pic.twitter.com/FbMnndXtIi— Ronald Gaines, Jr. (@RonGSports) November 8, 2019
Sharkey also leads Samford in scoring average with 18.7 PPG. His speed and coach Padgett’s trust have really helped him out throughout his career. Samford plays through Sharkey. He controls 32% of their possessions, good for 23rd in the nation.
“I’ve always been a pass first point guard,” Sharkey said. “I think it’s just natural for me to create and find people, but I really have to give the credit to my teammates. They are the one’s making the shots.”
The Bulldogs rank just outside the top 100 in points per game.
Sharkey is royalty in the city that raised him, Philadelphia. His second cousin is former NBA player Jameer Nelson. The legendary point guard has “helped him tremendously” and plays with with him frequently over the summer. Sharkey has also been recently named to the mid-season watch list for the Lou Henson Player of the Year Award, the accolade given to the country’s top Division I mid-major player.
Samford is currently 8-10 (2-2) and has a lot of work to do to make the postseason. Teams like, UNCG, Western Carolina, Wofford and ETSU dominate the conference, but Sharkey isn’t throwing tournament chances out the window.
“I think we have the capability to win it all,” Sharkey said. “The SoCon in my opinion is the best mid major conference so it’s going to take a lot to win it all but I think we can do it.”
Samford will go to Johnson City to face SoCon favorite East Tennessee State on Wednesday.