LONDON — When North Laurel junior Reed Sheppard announced his decision to commit to the University of Kentucky, both Jeff and Stacey Sheppard, Reed’s father and mother, wore huge smiles on their faces.
And deservedly so.
From day one of their son’s recruiting process, they confirmed they wouldn’t interfere with Reed’s decision on where to attend school, other than to provide guidance when asked.
The two former star University of Kentucky basketball players lived up to their promise, and now can sit back and enjoy their son’s final decision.
“I’m excited for Reed because Reed is excited,” Jeff said. “Stacey and I wanted him to go through his process. With our background, and how he was raised, he’s surrounded every single day by Kentucky fans, and even with all that dynamic, we still wanted him to go through his process, and he did. He wanted to go through that process, and now that process is completed. Everybody has different processes but for Reed, the process was finished sooner than later.
“Stacey and I, we weren’t necessarily trying to figure it out (for him), we tried to be there for him and allow him to figure it out,” he added. “Obviously, we wanted to continue to be his parents and be a resource there for him to continue to answer his questions and give him support. But when he started to spend more time at Kentucky’s practices, and Coach Cal came down here to North Laurel and spent about two hours talking to the family, that was the first time that we were able to talk about some things with Reed. We got a real good feel where Coach Cal was and we didn’t know that.”
Stacey agreed with Jeff.
“We are proud of what Reed has accomplished but we are also proud of Reed being Reed,” she said. “He wasn’t persuaded or pushed one way or the other. He’s taken his time, due diligence with himself, and he’s asked questions to both Jeff and I when needed.
“We’re just really proud of him with all of the hard work that he’s put in, and the dedication he’s had since he was 5 years old,” Stacey added. “We are just thankful and excited to go through this process with him.”
Both Jeff and Stacey agreed that once Kentucky contacted Reed, things began to change in the Wildcats favor.
“We left a Kentucky practice and he was like, ‘I want to go to Kentucky’,” she said. “Once he said that we just continued to support him like we have the entire time. It didn’t change him. We are just thankful for the opportunity.”
“We weren’t expecting to have two and a half hours one-on-one with Coach Cal,” Stacey added. “He talked about the positives and the negatives of Reed’s game and what he needed to do in the next two years to improve. It meant a lot to Reed, he was just real.”
“When Kentucky called and started recruiting and [Reed] began developing a relationship with Coach Cal and some of the players there and assistant coaches, I got the feeling that things changed,” Jeff said. “Coach Cal likes his skill set. He feels like basketball is evolving at all levels of a game of skill. Basketball is no longer a game now where guards are dribbling and big guys are rebounding. It’s a real fluid game where big guys dribble, guards rebound, and everybody is kind of doing everything, and that’s a good fit for Reed. Reed is a player that has got a pretty good skill set but he’s also got a lot to do. He’s got a pretty good frame and he’s a good size. He understands and sees the game of basketball well. His skill set is what Coach Cal likes.”
And now that Reed has committed to the University of Kentucky, both Jeff and Stacey said they’re happy with his decision.
“We are excited he’s going to be a Wildcat,” Jeff said. “It was a dream of mine and a dream of a lot of kids. To grow up in Kentucky and kind of let him see everything with all of the tournaments we’ve gone to is pretty special.”
“It’s kind of a surreal moment,” Stacey added. “We both have played basketball at Kentucky, and now our son is going to play at Kentucky — it’s kind of crazy.”