One of the more intriguing recruitments in the history of UK basketball has reached its conclusion.
2023 combo guard Reed Sheppard is officially committed to John Calipari and the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
The hometown 5-star recruit pledged his allegiance to the ‘Cats in front of a crowd of family, friends, and media members at North Laurel High School on Saturday.
Sheppard’s verbal commitment marks UK’s first commit in the Class of 2023.
Early on in his recruitment, there was much uncertainty about whether or not Reed Sheppard was genuinely interested in following his father’s footsteps and staying home to play for Kentucky.
Of course, Reed’s father, Jeff Sheppard, is a living legend amongst the Big Blue Nation for his contributions as a member of the 1996 and 1998 National Championship teams.
Most notably, Jeff Sheppard was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 1998 after leading the “Comeback Cats” to their seventh national title.
Even Reed’s mother, Stacey, played basketball for Kentucky. Actually, she didn’t just “play.” She’s a top-10 scorer in the history of the program.
It kind of goes without saying that Reed Sheppard has an elite pedigree, and blue has been running through his veins since birth.
Jeff Sheppard and Stacey Reed’s son.— Rex Chapman (@RexChapman) November 11, 2018
Reed Sheppard. First dunk. 8th-grader. 6’0. Look out, yall ... pic.twitter.com/FsYIZZsYWM
Now it’ll be up to him to carve out his own path and legacy in Lexington — something that he’s already well on his way to accomplishing.
It’s important to keep in mind that Reed Sheppard is a member of the Class of 2023, so it’ll be some time before fans see him in blue and white.
With the transfer portal now largely dictating teams’ roster makeup across the college basketball landscape, it won’t be uncommon to now see players committing earlier as opposed to later.
I think most everyone in the Commonwealth has seen a plethora of Reed Sheppard highlight reels and fully believes in his abilities to contribute at Kentucky. To take it a step further, many believe that he can become a bona fide superstar during his time in Lexington.
247 Sports Composite rankings have Sheppard listed as a 5-star combo guard and the 22nd overall best player in the entire class of 2023.
During his sophomore season, Sheppard averaged an incredible 30.1 points per game and led the state of Kentucky in points scored. He has tremendous playmaking ability and can fill it up from outside.
I’ve personally yet to see Sheppard play live, but the common theme of those who have seems to be just how much fun it is watching him play the game of basketball. Be sure to check out Jerry Meyer’s scouting report, which actually compares Sheppard to NBA guard Joe Harris.
You can just imagine the pressure that he faces on a game-to-game basis from opposing defenses and fans across the state.
But Sheppard is known to take it all in stride, maintain his composure, and typically walk away having bested the defender who was tasked with slowing him down offensively.
At 6-foot-3, he possesses great size and incredible athleticism. There’s also a good chance he’ll grow a bit before arriving on campus in 2023, making him even more of a problem with the ball in his hands.
As explosive of an athlete as he is, Sheppard also has all the makings to become an elite shooter from outside.
Last season at North Laurel, he shot over 40% from three, which is spectacular considering the consistent double teams he saw and the necessity to create his own offense.
To put it simply — Sheppard is a respected hooper who has more than earned his scholarship offer from Kentucky and the other slew of Division-I schools that offered him.
In all honesty, it’ll be tough to wait for him to arrive on campus and eventually run out of that tunnel at Rupp Arena. The hourglass will be ticking down for nearly two years to be exact.
If you can’t see yourself waiting that long, then make a point to get out and see his North Laurel team compete this season. Last year, Reed led his team to the regional championship game but came up short.
This spring, he’ll have a good chance to play at Rupp Arena in the KHSAA Sweet 16 before he’s officially a Wildcat. This is a day for the Big Blue Nation to celebrate a major recruiting win that also packs some sentimental value along with it.
Welcome to the family, Reed.