Family not surprised by UK fan favorite’s breakout campaign

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Madison Sheppard Wigginton doesn’t think her parents, Stacey and Jeff Sheppard, have been “shocked or surprised” by what her brother, Reed Sheppard, has done this season at Kentucky, even if many others have been.

“I think they knew what he was capable of. It was probably more exciting earlier on than they would have anticipated,” said Wigginton about her younger brother’s success. “I think they imagined he would have this opportunity and do well, but I am not sure any of us expected him to have performed so well, so quickly. But I think we all knew if he was given the right opportunity he would fully embrace it.”

Reed Sheppard has more than embraced it. He’s ready to set a single-season steals record at Kentucky and already leads the Southeastern Conference. He’s hitting over 50 percent from 3-point range and ranks second in the nation in 3-point percentage. He leads UK in assists and ranks among the SEC leaders.

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He also scored 32 points and hit the game-winning shot at Mississippi State to better the best scoring game his father, the 1998 Final Four Most Outstanding Player when UK won the national title, had with his 27-point game at Kentucky.

“He has done so well and I am just really proud of him,” Madison, who played at North Laurel High School like her brother and then at Campbellsville University, said. “It has been one of the coolest seasons of our lives and not just for basketball. We have embraced each and every moment of Reed’s journey from the time he moved to UK to Canada (for the exhibition games) to this point.

“It has truly been so much fun, win or lose. Reed is living his dream and it is so cool to watch him not only live his dream but be so successful doing it and we as a family love any time we can spend together.”

Madison considers herself “Reed’s protector” and has been known to respond on social media to what she felt was unfair criticism of her brother.

“I wish I could say I have not had to be his protector, but a few people got me stirred up. I try to stay off Twitter or I really work myself up and get mad sometimes,” she said. “I actually finally deleted Twitter when there were some inappropriate things posted about my parents and I just needed to get off there. You know the truth about your family and those people don’t so it’s just easy to not be exposed to any of that.

“There have not been a lot of negative comments because he has pretty much proved all the people wrong and I knew the whole time he would. No one really needs to defend him. I am proud of the way he has handled himself. I know there is a lot of pressure on him but he is having a great time and loves his teammates.”

Stacey had a successful high school career at Laurel County and then did the same at UK where she still ranks among the program’s all-time best players. Jeff was on two national championship teams at UK and one team that lost in the title game. They are shown on TV during most UK games, pose for photos with fans at almost every home and away game, and have numerous media interview requests.

“They are happy to do interviews, but they really just want to watch Reed and support him and his teammates. We appreciate the coverage of our family and I appreciate my mom being recognized for also being a really good player,” Madison said.

Madison and her husband live in St. Matthews, where he is a student at Southern Baptist Seminary. Madison works tech sales from home for a healthcare analytics company.

“I don’t know a lot of people here, so I enjoy a little more freedom from the attention than my parents,” Madison said. “People at our church know Reed and my parents but it is really nice to be able to escape and not have to worry about people watching my every move just because of who my brother is. But don’t doubt that I am proud of him and can’t wait to see what still lies ahead this season for him.”