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Reed Sheppard Q&A

Sitting atop the list once again in the 2023 high school recruiting cycle, the University of Kentucky landed five prospects ranked inside the top-30, a list that includes five-stars Justin Edwards, DJ Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw, Robert Dillingham, and the state’s own Mr. Basketball, Reed Sheppard. Sheppard, a 6’3” combo guard who played for North Laurel High School (KY) and Midwest Basketball Club (OH), comes from a talented and athletic family with Big Blue roots. Notably, his father Jeff Sheppard helped Kentucky win two national titles in 1996 and 1998 while his mother, Stacey Reed, also played for the Wildcats. Last month, the future Kentucky athlete played in the McDonald’s All-American Game, the state’s first selection since 2011. Furthermore, Sheppard led North Laurel to back-to-back 13th Region championships as a junior and senior while eclipsing 3,727 high school career points. As a strong connector and high IQ player, he will impact and complement Kentucky’s accomplished and exciting freshmen class.

As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Sheppard discussed the legacy of being a second generation UK athlete, his experience with Midwest Basketball Club and the uniqueness of the AAU program, his dream NIL deal, and much more.

For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Kentucky signee Reed Sheppard, from London, Kentucky:

Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.

Reed Sheppard: My name is Reed Sheppard. I'm from London, Kentucky. I'm 18 years old. I go to North Laurel High School. My family, my mom and dad both played at the University of Kentucky. My sister played at Campbellsville University. So basketball has always been in my family, and I've always grown up around it and I couldn't ask for anything better from them. You know, they've been supportive the whole way and they've taught me everything I know, so I love them with everything in me and I'm super thankful for them.

PI: As you mentioned, both your parents played at the University of Kentucky. Talk a bit more about the legacy of being a second generation UK athlete and everything associated with that.

RS: Yeah, it means a lot. First off, just having parents that played at Kentucky is a big deal. Not a lot of people will get to play at Kentucky, so you know, anywhere we go out or something, everyone's always coming in and talking to them, wanting to take pictures and I never really understood it when I was young. But now that I've gotten older and realized how great of an accomplishment that is and how big of a thing that is for them to play there and for me to be able to follow their footsteps, I mean it really means a lot to me. I know it. I know it means a lot to them. So it's really, really cool, especially for the family just knowing that my parents have been there and now I'm going, so hopefully I can do some of the great things that they did while they were both in college.

PI: When you think of Kentucky or BBN, how would you describe the university, the culture, the basketball, etc.?

RS: It's crazy, you know, they got the best fans in the world. Basketball is one of the main priorities in Lexington. No matter what, they're always going to be some crazy fans and Kentucky definitely has a lot of the crazy fans. So it's all one big family too with the basketball team and everything. Everyone's so close and it's just an awesome place to be and I couldn't be more excited to be going up there this summer.

PI: Looking back, when would you say you primarily started to focus on basketball?

RS: Yeah, there was never a time I don't remember where I wasn't playing basketball, but mainly around 6th grade or so I really started. I stopped playing like football and soccer and baseball and all the other sports and just kind of focused directly on basketball around 6th grade. And then about 8th grade or so when I started getting higher and higher on the better teams and the media and stuff were starting to catch up and watch some of the games is really when I was like, “Alright, you got a legit shot at this. Let's hammer down right here and just stay focused and keep working.” And so probably like the 8th grade onward has been really big for me and just staying focused and knowing that I have a chance to do some big things.

PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?

RS: Yeah, well, one of my strengths I think is I'll do whatever it takes to win. I can pass really well so if I need to go out and get some of my teammates open or get a steal on defense or something and I'm just going to go out and do whatever it takes and play my hardest. And then if we need a bucket or something, I can go get a bucket as well. But just being an overall good teammate, always encouraging, being unselfish on the court — really just doing whatever it takes to win.

PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?

RS: Some of my favorite players are Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Chris Paul, just the way he plays. You know, he controls the game, he gets his teammates involved, he always plays at his pace and he's just a great, great point guard. And then you look at Booker and he's just a scorer. He's just like a dog on offense, gets to his 15-foot mid-range really, really well. He’s just a really, really good player, and he also went to Kentucky so that's another reason. I'm a big fan of both of their games.

PI: What is the most underrated aspect of your game?

RS: I think I kind of show everything when I get on the court. I'm a little bit athletic so people know that a little bit, but no, I’m just really going out every time and giving it everything I got.

PI: How would you describe yourself as a leader?

RS: Yeah, I'm a vocal leader, but everything that I say is positive. You know, if something bad happens, I say it's on me. If they start missing shots, I'll be like, “you're good. Keep shooting. Shoot with confidence.” You know, I'm never bringing any of my teammates down or saying anything negative about them. It’s just always trying to build their confidence and keep the whole team positive and have no energy vampires. So everything is positive about the team and just everyone sticks together and just keeps that the main goal in the season.

PI: Reflecting on your storied high school career, what were some of the most memorable moments?

RS: Some of the most memorable moments would definitely be when we won back-to-back region championships. You know, our school hadn't won a region championship in like 10 or more years, so it had been a while since North Laurel had won at region, so being able to do that with my best friends, that's another thing. I mean, I've grown up with my teammates forever. We've all played all sports together growing up and we're best friends off the court, as well. So being able to do that with my best friends on the court, it was really special for me and an awesome moment.

PI: By the way, congratulations on your McDonald’s All-American selection. What does it mean to you to be named a McDonald’s All-American?

RS: Yeah, that's crazy. It was always a dream of mine growing up. You know, you look on TV and you get to watch the game and you hear the announcer still, they'll be NBA players and they'll be like, “he was a McDonald's All-American.” And so it sticks around and that's just a great accomplishment and not a lot of people get that opportunity so I'm truly blessed to have that opportunity and be able to share that moment with a lot of great, great players. So to me it was unbelievable. I was able to watch it with my mom on the TV and that was a really special moment for both of us. So being able to do that was just unbelievable.

PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?

RS: Just keep getting better. Obviously next year, the goal is to win the national championship. But overall, just keep improving my game through all aspects. You know, offense, defense, everything. And then just being a better person, a better leader and just keep growing, growing as a person.

PI: For AAU, you played with Midwest Basketball Club on the 3SSB circuit. How was your experience with them and what makes them so unique?

RS: Yeah, the biggest thing was how unselfish everyone was on the team. It was a great, great program and a lot of AAU teams will get in and just play one-on-one ball and “all about me and I don't care about anybody else.” But with Midwest the last two summers, it was very special because everyone wanted to win and somebody would have rather given up a three to pass for a backdoor dunk or something and that was really special. And then I was able to play with Gabe Cupps, so that was a very fun time for both of us — you know, that's my best friend and being able to play with him really meant a lot to me, and we had a lot of fun in the last two years.

PI: How do you see your role at the next level?

RS: Well, I haven't really talked much about it with any of the coaches yet, but when we get up there, I'll just do whatever they tell me to do and just stay in my role and whether it's going out and getting a stop on defense or going to make a shot or just anything they say, I'm willing to do. So just keep being a leader and just keep growing and I think everything will play out.

PI: Congratulations again on signing with Kentucky. What was Coach Cal’s most consistent message to you throughout the recruiting process? What did they try to convey?

RS: Yeah, well Coach Cal's biggest thing was “just have fun.” He was just like, “it's your last year of AAU, last year at high school, have fun and enjoy it.” He’s like, “you never get this moment back.” So that was his biggest thing and that really meant a lot to me because he wasn't worried about me going out and having a good game, or anything. He was like, “just go out and have fun.” He was like, “enjoy this, it's a blast.” And then the coaches, they would always call and talk a little more about it and their thing was just kind of the same thing, “just have fun and enjoy it and just keep working. Just never stop. Keep getting in the gym. Keep grinding.” So it was really cool being able to talk to them and hear their feedback and stuff after they would watch a game and hear a little bit on what they thought. So it was really awesome.

PI: What was Coach Cal and the staff’s reaction when you told them?

RS: Yeah, so we drove up to Lexington and we were actually in Coach Cal's office with all the coaches around and they thought we were just coming up just to visit and stuff and just say hey. So we sat down on the couch. Everybody did. And I told him and he jumped up and grabbed me up out of the couch and gave me a big hug and they were all just like, “welcome to the family!” And it was a really cool moment for me and my family to be able to share together. It was special.

PI: Would you say there is extra pressure playing under such a microscope with BBN?

RS: Yeah, it's definitely going to be a lot of pressure playing at Kentucky. I mean, it's everyone's goal to play at Kentucky. It's such a great school with such great history and players that of course everyone's going to be watching and you're going to have a target on your back every game. Everyone's going to play their ‘A’ game against you, so there's definitely going to be a lot of pressure. The teammates and the coaches and my family and everything will be helping me with all that and just saying, “have fun.” They'll have my back through it all and my teammates will make it easy. They'll go out there and they'll make plays and it'll be an awesome time.

PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?

RS: I like fishing. I like fishing a lot.

PI: What's the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

RS: It's probably a permit. It's in the ocean. We went out inshore fishing a couple of summers ago at the beach and I was able to catch a permit and that was a lot of fun.

PI: Who are your favorite music artists?

RS: I'm a country fan. I like country music so I like HARDY. HARDY is probably my favorite country artist.

PI: What are your favorite TV shows, movies, books?

RS: Hoosiers is probably my favorite movie. I don't really watch a lot of TV shows, but Shooter is a good TV show that I really like. I don't have a favorite book.

PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?

RS: I would say #fun. All the time, I’m wanting to go outside and do something and just have fun and joke around and never be too serious. So just all the time, I'm wanting to have fun and do something fun.

PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?

RS: It would maybe be a really nice boat. Like a really nice boat so you get out on the water and hang out with your friends, and then maybe have a little bed on the boat so you can stay out there. So maybe a really nice boat.

PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?

RS: I would probably play another sport. I'd probably pick baseball. That was always one of my favorite sports growing up and all my friends play baseball, so I would probably try to go somewhere big in baseball.

PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?

RS: Probably my parents on the social media aspect. They're just like, “people are going to say stuff positive and negative, just block it all out and just focus on you. Don't get overwhelmed by what people are saying. Don't think about it. They're going to have an opinion no matter what so just do you and you're doing it for only one person and that's God. So just go out and be yourself and don't worry about what anybody else says.”

PI: How important is your faith to you?

RS: Yeah, it's very important. You know, growing up in a church, my family, we go to church every Sunday and it's a big thing. It's a big thing in our family. I mean, He never lets you down so He's been a great, great friend to rely on and talk to. So it's been awesome.

PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

RS: The big thing for me is not being able to hear on a phone call. If someone is cutting in and out or trying to eat on a phone call and you can’t hear the person clearly, then it bothers me.

PI: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

RS: Probably extrovert. Yeah, I like getting out and hanging with my friends and like having a good time outside and stuff.

PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’

RS: Yeah, just a big thing is just being a good person, like being a good friend, being good family and just like go through the day with confidence and don't boast or like brag about it and just be a humble person and be kind and just treat others the way you want to be treated and just go about life that way and I think you'll have a successful life.

PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?

RS: I don’t really have a dream NIL deal. Any NIL deal would be a blessing and I would be fortunate to be able to have some, so I don't think unless it would be like a super nice car deal or something — to get a pretty nice car — that would probably be one of them.

PI: Where do you see yourself in five years?

RS: Hopefully still playing and I'd say hopefully if I’m not playing, I'm not 100% sure, but hopefully still playing and just still being the same person as I am, you know? I see myself enjoying being outside and in nature and just continuing to enjoy hanging out with my friends and my family still.

PI: Name four words that best describe you.

RS: Humble. Fun. Funny. Soft-hearted.

PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?

RS: Probably just being a good person. You know, being like a nice young man. I don't want anyone to have anything negative to say about me if my name gets brought up. Everyone's like, “he's a good man. He's a good guy.” When people see you walking, they can only say positive things about you. And never get too confident or don't go and boast about anything. Just remain humble and yeah, just be a good person and treat everyone the same and treat everyone how you would want to be treated.


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