Reed Sheppard following in father’s footsteps
Published 11:53 am Thursday, July 6, 2023
BY KEITH TAYLOR
Reed Sheppard followed his father’s footsteps to Kentucky and will make the same number change his father did when he steps on the court this season.
Sheppard chose No. 15 after his old number (3) was already taken by teammate Adou Thiero. Reed Sheppard wore No. 3 since he started dribbling a basketball. His father, Jeff, also wore No. 3 in high school but was told by late equipment manager Bill Keightley that No. 15 was the only option available when he arrived in Lexington.
When he told his father about the switch, Jeff Sheppard was surprised. Reed Sheppard said his dad wasn’t expecting the change, “because I wore No. 3 my whole life,” but recalled the discussion between father and son as a “really cool moment.”
“We had a couple of guys who were wearing No. 3 and I figured after that I would just have to go with pop’s old number and rock the No. 15,” Sheppard said. “(The conversation with my dad about it) was really cool. It was cool for me to be able to be able to tell him and it shocked him.”
Prior to making the move official, Sheppard had an idea he would swap numbers because Thiero wore No. 3 last season.
“I definitely thought about it, but I kept it to myself,” he said. “I never told (my dad), but in my head, I thought, ‘I’m probably going to wear No. 15,’ but I never told anything to him.”
He said his old number has no sentimental meaning or connection to another player.
“It’s just a number that I’ve always worn,” he said. “There’s no real reason. … It’s always been my number. When it got switched, it was no big deal for me.”
Sheppard, the reigning Kentucky Mr. Basketball, enjoyed a stellar career at North Laurel High School in London and is looking forward to the next phase of his career.
“I’m excited to be able to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “I don’t care if I go out and shoot five shots or if I shoot 20 shots — it doesn’t matter to me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win, have fun with it, keep enjoying the process and keep having fun with my teammates.”
The transition, he said, is a big difference from high school, but has gotten support from his new coaches and teammates to help make the change an easier process.
“It’s college,” he said. “I think the pace is different and the size (of the players) but the coaching staff does a great job getting you prepared for the season (along with the) practices and the intensity, You’re surrounded by great players and they make it a lot easier. I think the biggest thing is to just go out and play — play as hard as you can and continue to have fun with it.”
Sheppard has enjoyed being around his new surroundings and added the Wildcats have the ingredients necessary to create a winning mix on the court.
“We’re going to come out and give it everything we’ve got,” he said. “I think we have a really special group and we’re connecting really well on and off the court. We love to compete and we love to have fun with each other. Practices have been unbelievable, playing and competing against each other. I think it’s really going to be a special group.”