The question that loomed over the hiring of one of Kentucky’s most famous high school basketball players for a long time has been answered.
There won’t be an endless “are they going or not? ” here.
Reed Sheppard has a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky.
Sheppard – a 6-foot-2 guard from North Laurel High School and the son of two great British basketball greats – apparently showed enough things during the Wildcats’ first in-person visions to warrant an offer, which many fans of the Kentucky are clamoring. .
Britain’s coach John Calipari extended the scholarship offer on Friday, putting the ball in Sheppard’s court for further recruitment.
Calipari was among the head coaches in the stands Thursday night at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex, part of Sheppard’s scouting debut in July on the Adidas National Tour. Not only was Calipari there, but he brought his three assistant coaches – Orlando Antigua, Chin Coleman and Jai Lucas – a major statement that Kentucky was serious about recruiting Sheppard.
While Calipari left Alabama to recruit elsewhere on Friday, top assistant Antigua remained on center court for Sheppard’s second game of the event. Antigua saw the former British rookie score 23 points in the first half of this one. He finished with six three points, a victory for his team, and yet another example of why he deserved to be ranked among the best in the country.
After his Adidas debut on Thursday night, Sheppard was told that all of the UK coaching staff had watched him play, and he was asked what a possible Kentucky scholarship offer would mean to him.
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “Mostly mom and dad both play in Kentucky, then grow up as a Kentucky fan. And living in Kentucky, it’s every high school basketball player’s dream to play at the University of Kentucky. So that would mean a lot. But we’re just going to see how it all plays out, and however it plays out, that’s how it’s gonna play out. ”
It didn’t take long to unfold, and perhaps it should have been expected, even with Calipari’s history taking a meticulous approach to the bidding process. This one is different.
Sheppard’s parents – Jeff Sheppard and Stacey Reed Sheppard – will be forever remembered in British basketball lore. Her father was the top scorer and most notable Final Four player for the 1998 National Championship team. Her mother was one of the greatest players in the history of the program.
But Sheppard didn’t get that scholarship offer because of his last name. He deserved it.
He averaged 30.1 points per game – and shot 40.9 percent from three points – in the last season in high school, leading the State in scoring in sophomore. He was good enough earlier this spring to go from unranked nationally to No.39 in the Rivals.com ranking for the 2023 class. The more hiring analysts and national talent assessors watch Sheppard, the more they seem to like him.
He’s obviously done enough to impress Kentucky coaches.
Along the way, neither he nor his family fled the massive searchlight that was already pointed in his direction. Sheppard just turned 17 – and has two more years of high school ahead of him – but he’s already become one of the names at the center of the British basketball world. He took it all in stride.
His dad, who knows a thing or two about British basketball, believes – if he ends up picking the Wildcats – he’ll take a similar approach to the pressure that comes with playing Kentucky.
Jeff Sheppard noted that – for a player whose basketball dreams are as big as his son’s – there will always be an oversized wait for success, no matter what jersey he wears.
“More than anything, wherever he ends up we just want him to be himself,” said the former British star. “And wherever he ends up, there’s going to be pressure. And the expectations. And that’s not a bad thing. When you give your son some of these leaders in this gym, they are able to manage and guide him. You look around, there are elite leaders all around. So you kind of have to trust them to navigate the process as well. “
Reed, who lives about 75 miles south of Lexington, admitted he had grown up as a Kentucky fan. He still has British stuff relating to his father’s time in his bedroom, as well as items celebrating newer Calipari-era stars like John Wall, Anthony Davis and Devin Booker.
“We watch every Kentucky game, as a family, when we’re all at home,” he said. “I grew up as a Kentucky fan and I love Kentucky. Coach Cal has done a really good job of bringing players into the league, and he’s had great success in tournaments. I think he’s a good coach.
That said, there is no indication that this British offer will immediately end Sheppard’s recruiting. It has plenty of other great options. Louisville also extended a scholarship offer and – earlier this week – Sheppard said Gozaga, Virginia, Indiana and Clemson were among the other programs that recruit him heavily. There will surely be other big names joining the mix in the near future.
Or maybe Kentucky’s offer will scare other suitors off. Time will tell us.
What seems clear is that Sheppard won’t be scared off by the UK basketball scene or the possibility of Calipari bringing in other star players – more famous rookies – that might make it harder for him to play. big minutes right away.
“Wherever you go… you just can’t think you’re going to be able to play right away,” he said. “You’re going to have to work for that and get into the gym and improve and take on all your teammates, and work for one of the five starting spots.”