Getting Up There: Central's Matthew "Slim" Sharpe Has Leadership Qualities

Pounders' Sophomore Building On The Confidence Of Teammates

Thursday, January 13, 2022 - by Joseph Dycus
Central's Matthew "Slim" Sharpe dunks in a recent contest against East Hamilton.
Central's Matthew "Slim" Sharpe dunks in a recent contest against East Hamilton.
- photo by Joseph Dycus

It shouldn’t be possible for a 6-3 combo guard with an easy jumper and developing athleticism to go unnoticed on the court. And yet somehow, Chattanooga Central’s Matthew Sharpe has found a way to get buckets and rebound with anonymity, aside from instances like Tuesday night. Against East Hamilton, the usually reserved student-athlete got ahead of the defense and punched through the rim for a loud dunk and exclaimed in excitement afterward.

 

His big play fired up the crowd and his teammates, and for a moment the kid called “Slim” was the center of attention.

Still only a sophomore, Sharpe says he is still learning how to be the leader Chattanooga Central’s team and coaches want him to become.

 

“I still lack some of the characteristics of a leader, but I’m trying, and I’ll get better at it,” Sharpe says. “My coaches want me to be more vocal and to lead, so I’m trying. I’m more of a quiet person, and I’m not really the kind of guy to go into practice and yell at people. I’d rather talk to people as individuals, not in a group.”

 

The baskets and fun-to-watch shots draw attention, but every great player goes hard on both ends of the floor. Junior bigman DJ Sanderfer does not put up many shots, but he is an integral part of Central’s unit as the last line of defense. He wants to see Slim become stouter at the point of attack as he takes on a larger role within the team.

 

“Matthew is like an eight on defense, and to be a 10 he’s got to stop people from getting by him too easily,” Sanderfer says. “He recovers sometimes, and it’s really a maturity thing. I get on to him on the court (for not being loud enough).”

 

Per Sharpe’s teammate (and nephew) Tiawun Bell, the team already believes in the wing as a lead scorer on the floor, as Sharpe has the size and ball skills none of the other players have. Point guard Ryan Glover runs the show for the Purple Pounders, and he says Sharpe doesn’t have to demand the ball to be featured.

 

“I mean, he really doesn’t have to ask me to pass to him, because if he’s open, I’ll get him the ball. I know he’s going to hit the shot. I’m confident in him,” Glover says. “We all want him to come and be a leader, but everyone on the team also has to be leaders too. We all have to step up.”

 

Sharpe’s favorite player growing up was the late Kobe Bryant, and he has fond memories of watching the Mamba with his father. But while Bryant (for whom Sharpe wears the number 24) was famed for his dogged intensity and sometimes overbearing leadership style, Sharpe is still trying to find his voice.

 

Coach Kantonio Davis wants to encourage Slim to be a more vocal presence in the locker room. After having a pair of senior-laden teams his last two seasons, Davis’ 2022 team is young and impressionable, and is looking for a player to step up and take charge.

 

“He’s very talented and being just a sophomore, I get it. He feels like he should not be that guy at this time,” Davis says. “But I try to encourage him all the time and say that leadership doesn’t have a grade or number on it.”

 

Fellow sophomore Kelsean Patillo can relate to Sharpe’s plight. He may not have the talent his teammate has (he called Sharpe “the best basketball player I’ve ever met”), but like Sharpe, Patillo is also trying to transition from a wide-eyed freshman to an essential part of the Purple Pounders team.

 

“I think it comes with maturity. We’re both just sophomores, so I think it’s just a growing thing for me and him,” Patillo says. “We’re both really laid back, but we have to learn how to be vocal leaders at the varsity level.”

 

Fortunately for Sharpe, he has two and a half years to figure out how to lead a team. While he learns, the do-everything guard will continue to fill the stat sheet in the points column, on the boards, and as a floor-general.

 

“I play my hardest, and I rebound, score, and pass to get my teammates involved. I can hoop, and I’m up there,” Sharpe says. “I’m sure by my senior year, I’ll be yelling and be a much better leader.”

 

 

 

Do you have an opinion on this article, or have a story you believe needs coverage? You can contact the author at Joseph.A.Dycus@gmail.com or on Twitter at @joseph_dycus.



PHOTOS: Prep Volleyball Play Day

Future Lives Matter Youth Football Classic Looking For Teams

Coaches, We Need Your Fall Sports Schedules


The 36th annual Choo Choo Play Day was held Saturday at Ooltewah and Red Bank high schools. Teams at Ooltewah were Ooltewah, Bradley, CCS, Walker Valley, Davidson, Pats, Brainerd, and Soddy ... (click for more)

The second annual Future Lives Matter Classic, hosted by the Chattanooga Ravens Youth Football and Cheerleading Association will be held August 6th and 7th. Last year approximately 40 teams ... (click for more)

Calling all coaches of fall sports! We need your schedules to add to our master list of football, volleyball, soccer, golf and cross country events. Please help us as we endeavor to keep your ... (click for more)



Prep Sports

PHOTOS: Prep Volleyball Play Day

The 36th annual Choo Choo Play Day was held Saturday at Ooltewah and Red Bank high schools. Teams at Ooltewah were Ooltewah, Bradley, CCS, Walker Valley, Davidson, Pats, Brainerd, and Soddy Daisy. Teams at Red Bank were Red Bank, Livingston, Rhea, Grundy, Hixson, Sale Creek, Hazel Green, and CSLA. Photos are from Red Bank. (click for more)

Future Lives Matter Youth Football Classic Looking For Teams

The second annual Future Lives Matter Classic, hosted by the Chattanooga Ravens Youth Football and Cheerleading Association will be held August 6th and 7th. Last year approximately 40 teams coming from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama participated. The Classic is for teams ages 5-12 Games will be played at Tyner High and the Washington Hills Recreation Center. Tto enter ... (click for more)

Breaking News

City Council Gives Final Approval For Stadium Deal; Council Adds Provisions For "Transparency" On $80 Million Project

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $80 million Southside Stadium project. The action puts in motion the ability for a new city/county Sports Authority to convene and issue $80 million in bonds for the "community" facility on nine acres at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site. Councilman Chip Henderson added several provisions that he said would add "transparency" ... (click for more)

CHA Planning 1,783 Housing Units At Re-Envisioned Westside

Officials of the Chattanooga Housing Authority said the plan to re-envision the Westside includes building 1,783 new housing units. Betsy McCright, CHA executive director, said the College Hill Courts and the Gateway Tower will be taken down, but she said residents in those 629 have been promised a spot in some of the new housing. She said the demolition will be in stages ... (click for more)

Opinion

Rest In Peace, Larry Wallace

Athens and Tennessee lost a great friend and a long-time public servant when Larry Wallace passed away Saturday afternoon. The 1962 McMinn County High School graduate started his lifetime law enforcement career with the Athens Police Department in 1964. He joined the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1967 and was appointed as a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of ... (click for more)

Election Day Observations - And Response

Congratulations to all the winners in Thursday's election. And also thanks to all who ran, it takes a lot of courage to enter the arena of politics. I didn't vote for Weston in the primary but I certainly did in the general election. I think he will do a wonderful job. Sabrena, I voted for you but I would imagine your career is over after one of the dumbest political stunts I ... (click for more)