Sheppard says boys’ state basketball title is wide open this year

Published 3:10 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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Former UK basketball standout Jeff Sheppard has seen many teams play this year he thinks they could win the state championship if they can get out of regional tournament play this week.

“The regions are so difficult, and there are always upsets and phenomenal games,” said Sheppard. “I could probably point to 20 teams, and if one of those 20 won the state, I would still say that makes sense. For the field to be that open makes for a very exciting tournament, and in a one-game setting, anything can happen.”

His son, Kentucky signee Reed Sheppard, hopes to lead North Laurel back to the state tourney, and North Laurel is one of the teams with a chance to win the state crown.

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“We are having a blast with this season. Basketball is a game you cannot perfect. Mistakes are made every time you play,” Jeff Sheppard said. “I have seen Reed play since he was a little fellow. I know him and his mannerisms. I see things with him a lot of other people don’t see.

“I am happy with Reed’s level of maturity as a player and leader. That’s what is important as he continues to work on strength training, shooting, ball handling, decisions you have to make when the other team is playing great or maybe the officiating is just a little bit off or you are seven down on the road. Those are the moments you have to have maturity to focus and execute and he’s getting better in those areas.”

Jeff Sheppard said his son will fight and battle for his “team in every scenario” no matter whether things are going good or bad.

“We want him to be a great young man who appreciates every moment and is a fighter for his team, state and university,” Jeff Sheppard said.

He recently was named a McDonald’s All-American just like UK signees Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw and DJ Wagner were.

“Reed has not had a ton of goals in regards to trophies but this was one of them,” Jeff Sheppard said. “He really wanted to win that honor. You do the best you can and hope to get picked but it’s tough.

“We knew how much it meant to him but also knew he would be the same player whether he was picked or not. But it was such a big deal for him and he was happy, so we were happy for him.”