|It must have been the biggest dream -- from growing up a
die-hard UK fan in Georgia to winning Tournament MVP and a national championship in their
senior season -- that was the dream Jeff Sheppard had -- and lived out. The next dream is
the NBA. Can it come true? First, and perhaps foremost, Sheppard is a fantastic athlete.
All those comparisons you heard between Sheppard and former Wildcat Rex Chapman were
absolutely true. He can simply jump out of the gym. In fact, it was reported at the Desert
Classic pre-draft camp, Sheppard measured with the highest vertical of anyone there. But
Sheppard's game is more than simply jumping, he can actually play the game of basketball.
Sheppard is a talented offensive player who burn you different ways. While he's not a pure
outside shooter, he has a good knack of coming off of screens or off the dribble to nail a
3. He has decent range that should extend out to the NBA 3-pt line. Sheppard can also
create his shot off the dribble, and his hang-time allows him to get some good looks to
the basket. Defensively, Sheppard is solid -- anyone who can play the Pitino system for 3
years and the Tubby system for 1 should be able to play some decent defense.
Questions regarding Sheppard's game: most important may be size and
position. Sheppard is at most 6'3", which is short by NBA standards for a shooting
guard, even with the athletic leaping ability. Does Sheppard have what it takes to play
point guard in the NBA? He does have 1 full year of experience at the position (having
started there as a sophomore in the 1994-95 season), but he more than showed he wasn't a
true PG. In addition, Sheppard's ball-handling, while solid, isn't the caliber of a
starting PG in the NBA. Has he dribbled extensively or gone to his left yet? He likely
could fill in at that position, but not for long periods of time. Sheppard isn't a pure
shooter, and some even wonder if his high vertical leap affects his shot in that it makes
him drift in the air (sure wish I had that problem).
Outlook: looking like a 2nd round selection -- could be late 1st round if he has a good
Chicago showing. While he is short for a shooting guard, NBA teams will like his
athleticsm and may see him as a 3rd/combo guard type off of the bench. Sheppard plays hard
and knows the game, so that is certainly a plus. His having played on 2 national
championship teams, being an MVP on one certainly doesn't hurt either.