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Calipari, Wildcats land star 23 recruit Sheppard

  • Basketball recruiting insider.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Graduate of University of Delaware.

  • National Recruiting Director for ESPN.com
  • 18 years of coaching experience at Division I level
  • Former Horizon League coach of the year at Wright State

Top-40 junior Reed Sheppard, the son of two-time national champion Jeff Sheppard, announced his commitment to Kentucky basketball on Saturday.

Sheppard, a Kentucky native whose mother also played for the Wildcats, was offered by coach John Calipari and Kentucky after a strong July.

“I did not know what to think,” Sheppard said of the offer. “I was with both parents in the hotel room. It was hard to believe. Getting the offer meant so much. Coach Cal said he enjoyed watching me play. He said a lot of guys don’t get the opportunity to play at Kentucky. But he believed in me. It was special.”

Sheppard also had Louisville and Virginia among the other schools involved, but Kentucky’s offer dramatically changed his recruitment and the Wildcats were the clear favorite moving forward. Calipari’s involvement helped seal it for the Wildcats.

“He is a great dude,” Sheppard said of Calipari. “When I met him, it felt different. Growing up in Kentucky, I have always watched him coach. He has been extremely successful. He helps get his players to where they want to go, whether it is in basketball or not.”

A 6-foot-2 combo guard, Sheppard is ranked No. 37 in the ESPN 60 for the 2023 class.

Sheppard is a high-end facilitator who can also make shots. He is fundamentally sound with no wasted motion on his jump shot, both off the catch or on a pull-up jumper in rhythm. He is dangerous in ball screens and understands how to create separation, whether he attacks the hedging defender, shoots behind the screen or finds the open man. Off the ball, Sheppard moves well to get open to find space for his jumper.

Sheppard’s father, Jeff, won two national championships at Kentucky, in 1996 and 1998, and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1998 Final Four. His mother, Stacey Reed, finished her career among the school’s all-time leading scorers.

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