Reed Sheppard dives into NBA Draft

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Reed Sheppard is ready to pursue his next dream.

The Kentucky freshman guard declared for the NBA Draft on Thursday and will forgo the remaining three years of his college eligibility. The recent hiring of Mark Pope, Jeff Sheppard’s teammate at Kentucky, wasn’t enough to persuade Sheppard to stay for one more season.

“I’m going all-in,” Sheppard told ESPN. “The opportunity I have is great. I’ve gotten really good feedback showing where I can be in the draft. I had an unbelievable year at Kentucky. It was such a fun year. It’s not easy leaving the fans and the school I dreamed of playing at. I need to do what’s best for me, and that’s heading to the NBA.”

Email newsletter signup

Sheppard is projected as a lottery pick in the NBA Draft and many analysts have him listed at No. 7 in most pre-draft projections. He was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and second-team All-SEC after he averaged 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. He also made 75 3-pointers while shooting 52 percent from long range this season.

“My teammates and coaches put confidence in me, telling me you need to shoot,” Sheppard said. “I was fortunate to be able to get in the gym and work with [former Kentucky assistant] coach John Welch every day. He’s one of the best trainers you’ll find.”

In a video posted on social media Thursday, Sheppard said he is “just a little boy from London, Kentucky with a big dream.”

“Playing basketball at the University of Kentucky was a huge part of my dream,” he said. “I’m so thankful to wear the Blue and White jersey that represents my family, my friends and the hard-working faithful fans of the Big Blue Nation.

“Kentucky is home, Kentucky will always be home. There is another part of my dream — to play basketball in the NBA. I believe it’s time to pursue that dream.”

Sheppard, son of former Kentucky standouts Jeff and Stacey Reed, praised the fans for their support during his lone season with the Wildcats.

“BBN, you have been with me from Day 1 — faithful and passionate,” he said. “I am asking you to go with me on this journey.

“I’m looking forward to taking you with me. I represent you with all of the characteristics that make us Kentuckians — passion, humility, perseverance, sacrifice and joy. One day I will return to family, to friends, to Kentucky, my home. I love you, BBN, thank you.”