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Louisville turns up the heat in Reed Sheppard recruitment

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What’s the next move for John Calipari and Kentucky?

HypedUp TV

With the summer basketball circuit in full swing, North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard is on the move, both on and off the court, with unofficial visits in progress for the month of June.

Sheppard, the son of Jeff and Stacey (Reed) Sheppard, both former UK basketball stars, has spent quality time with family this summer, making unofficial visits to Virginia and Louisville, where he toured the KFC Yum! Center and met with Coach Chris Mack on Thursday, June 3rd. He received an official offer from Mack on June 15th.

“I really enjoyed being there,” said Sheppard in an interview with Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority. “Coach Mack and the rest of the coaching staff, I thought they did a really, really good job of welcoming me and showing me around whether it was the coaches’ office, the practice facility or the Yum Center. It felt really good being there and they did a good job. They showed me everywhere I needed to see and explained everything I needed to hear.”

After an explosive sophomore season, the 6-foot-3 all-stater has climbed up national recruiting boards. He’s currently ranked No. 39 among the Class of 2023 via Rivals, who have the combo guard listed as the No. 1 player in Kentucky.

At 247, Sheppard comes in at 65th overall, trailing Louisville Male’s Kaleb Glenn (No. 44) as the state’s top player.

Sheppard averaged 30.1 points per game this past season, tied for first in the state, scoring a career high 54 points against Corbin and adding 50 in a win over South Laurel. North Laurel finished 25-3 last season, falling to Knox Central 78-63 in the 13th Region Tournament championship, coming up a game short for a trip to the Sweet 16.

North Laurel was back in action this past weekend at the 64-team Titans Rockets Summer Shootout held at Collins High School in Shelbyville. The event featured many of the top teams from Kentucky as well as teams from Florida, Ohio and Indiana.

With COVID-19 restrictions finally lifted for in-person attendance, many of the nation’s top coaches, including Juwan Howard (Michigan) and Tony Bennett (Virginia), made the trip to Shelbyville to see Sheppard in person for the first time.

Noticeably missing from the event was the Kentucky coach staff, although Sheppard has confirmed that he stays in contact with UK assistant Orlando Antigua via text message, albeit a far cry from the official scholarship offered from Louisville.

“It meant a lot, it’s something you work for your whole life,” Sheppard said of the UofL offer via KSR. “Living in Kentucky, it’s an in-state school — a really big in-state school. Kentucky players, their dream is to play at the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville. To have that Louisville offer, it feels really good.”

The four-star recruit is sure to see his stock rise this summer as a member of the Adidas sponsored Midwest Basketball Club in Ohio with dad, Jeff serving as an assistant coach. To date, he holds offers from Louisville, Arizona State, The College of Charleston, Texas A&M, Iowa, Iona, South Alabama, High Point and Stetson. Offers from Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Cincinnati and Western Kentucky appear imminent.

Sheppard is arguably the best player to come out of Eastern Kentucky since Richie Farmer led Clay County High School to a state title in 1987 and had his number retired inside Rupp Arena as one of “The Unforgettables” with fellow Kentucky natives John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, and Indianapolis product Sean Woods.

Only five in-state scholarship players have landed in Lexington during the 12 years of the John Calipari era — Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson (walk-on turned scholarship player), Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, and Dontaie Allen.

Allen, Hawkins and Hood were all named Mr. Basketball along with Darius Miller, who played three seasons for Calipari, but was recruited by former coach Billy Gillispie. Allen, a four-star recruit, was ranked in the top 75 by Rivals (No. 68) and was Kentucky’s first in-state signee since 2013 when he joined the team for the 2019-20 season.

UK fans see a lot of similarity in Sheppard and Allen as each have explosive scoring ability and high basketball IQ. Allen finished his career at Pendleton County as the 11th all-time leading scorer with 3,255 points, a mark Sheppard is projected to reach over the next two seasons after joining the 2000-point club in March. Wayland’s Kelly Coleman is the state’s all-time leading scorer with 4,337 points between 1953-56 and is the only member of the 4,000-point club.

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