BY Larry Vaught
Kentucky Mr. Basketball Reed Sheppard of North Laurel was thrilled when he was named a McDonald’s All-American, a rare honor for any Kentucky high school player. However, he got a special treat at last week’s all-star game in Houston when he got to wear No. 15 — the same number his father, Jeff, wore during his illustrious career at Kentucky with him being the most outstanding player in the 1998 Final Four.
Sheppard put No. 3 — his high school number — as his first jersey number preference on his McDonald’s form but No. 15 was his second choice.
“It was cool because I didn’t think I’d get No. 3. Being able to wear No. 15 is really cool . Dad wore it. It’s really cool to be able to continue his number and it says Sheppard on the back?” the UK signee said on Media Day at the McDonald’s All-American Game. “When they sent it, it meant a lot to me because I’ve always looked up to Dad. He’s always worked me out. So to be able to finally get his number on my back was a pretty cool moment.”
Jeff Sheppard was on UK’s 1996 and 1998 national championship teams and averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals per his senior season. He had 27 points against Stanford and 16 against Utah in the Final Four despite coming off an ankle injury earlier in postseason play.
“If we played right now, I’m saying 11-2 (against his Dad). I’d say he would get one bucket, he might get lucky and throw one up. But nah, I definitely think I could take him on now,” Reed laughed and said. “He’s getting a little old — he doesn’t play too much anymore. I think I could take him now.”
His mother, Stacy Reed Sheppard, was also a former UK star who still ranks in UK’s top career lists for made 3-pointers (175), assists (442), steals (309), field-goal attempts (1,318) and games started (110).
Reed Sheppard watched the McDonald’s roster announcement on TV with his mom.
“As soon as they announced the teams and I saw my name on the TV screen, it was a surreal moment,” Sheppard said during the all-star game Media Day. “I looked over and she had tears in her eyes. She talked about how proud she was of me, seeing all the hard work finally pay off, seeing my dreams come true. It was a really special moment with my mom.
“We had a game that night, so I couldn’t do much (after the announcement). After the game, coming back home and having my mom and dad to talk to about it was cool.”
Reed Sheppard had his own historic prep career with 3,727 career points, third best in state history. He also had a state-best 653 steals and 1,214 assists, second best in state history. He was also the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior.
“I’m from Kentucky. Growing up, I’ve always been a little boy that’s wanted to play at the University of Kentucky and to have that opportunity, it means a lot and it’s super special to me to be able to stay in my hometown and be able to try and put my city on the map,” Reed said. “I want to do it for them, really. So this means a lot.”