Kentucky G Reed Sheppard declares for NBA draft

Kentucky freshman star Reed Sheppard announced Thursday that he is entering the 2024 NBA Draft.

Sheppard posted a video to social media thanking fans and also told ESPN that he is “going all-in,” forgoing his remaining collegiate eligibility.

The son of former Kentucky basketball stars Jeff Sheppard and Stacey Reed, Reed Sheppard was named the National Freshman of the Year by the USBWA and NABC after emerging from Kentucky’s touted, crowded freshman class.

Sheppard averaged 12.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals across 33 games (only five starts) while shooting a remarkable 52.1 percent from 3-point range.

He is projected to be a lottery pick this June by many mock drafts.

“Playing basketball at the University of Kentucky was a huge part of my dream,” Sheppard said in his video. “I am so thankful to wear the blue and white jersey that represents my family, my friends and the hardworking, faithful fans of the Big Blue Nation. Kentucky is home. Kentucky will always be home.

“However, there is another part of my dream: to play basketball in the NBA. I believe it is time to pursue that dream. Therefore, I will be entering my name into the NBA draft today.”

Sheppard’s decision came in the middle of a transition to a new head coach after John Calipari parted ways with the school to take the Arkansas job.

But the new hire was no stranger to Sheppard. Kentucky named former Wildcats player Mark Pope, who was head coach at BYU, as Calipari’s replacement.

Jeff Sheppard and Pope were teammates and roommates at Kentucky in the 1990s and remain close friends. Pope said before the announcement he understood Reed Sheppard was making more than a stay-or-go call because of lottery pick draft grades.

“Reed is in that elite air status where he’s a lottery pick,” Pope said last week. “He’s going to be the fourth or fifth or sixth or seventh pick in the NBA Draft. That is not something to be taken lightly. It’s really extraordinary.”

Sheppard, who grew up in Kentucky, thanked the fan base throughout his video.

“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 am looking forward to taking you with me.”