After leading the Kentucky Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA championship with his Most Outstanding Player performance, Jeff Sheppard played four years of professional basketball before settling down to raise a family in London, Ky., which is located 70 miles south of the Lexington’s UK campus.
Sheppard and his wife, the former Stacey Reed, met at Kentucky where she also played basketball for the Wildcats. The couple has two children – a 12-year-old daughter Madison and an eight-year-old son Reed. Madison, a seventh-grader, plays on her middle school girls’ basketball team, while Reed plays on an AAU team – the Kentucky Playmakers, coached by Sheppard.
The Sheppards own and operate a company called 15inc., which supplies organizations, groups and business with the latest in apparel and promotional items. “If you can put a logo on it, we can get it for you!” their web site claims.
Stacy is also in full-time ministry as the director of the Backpack Club, which feeds between 1,000 and 1,400 kids weekly in the Sheppard’s community. The Sheppards are frequent speakers at schools, basketball camps and clinics, and are active within their church and community.
“Between chasing the kids and trying to sell T-shirts and hats and make a living, that’s us in a nutshell,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard is also working on another project he has named Dream Shapers – an athletic facility that would coach youth, middle school and high school athletes, giving them the tools to move on to the next level.
“Baseball, soccer, basketball, football, whatever they are playing – we want to put a facility in Southeastern Kentucky that enables them to grow and excel and develop athletically and mentally and be ready to perform at the next level and hopefully get a college scholarship,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard misses playing basketball, but has also found sharing his experiences with youngsters is also fulfilling.
“That’s why I coach,” Sheppard said. “I’m enjoying the game of basketball now as a dad and one of those crazy AAU coaches who screams at their eight-year-old son, and expects perfect execution of the motion offense when he can’t even tie his shoes.”
Around the state of Kentucky, Sheppard is still recognized as one of the Wildcat greats who helped the program win NCAA titles in 1996 and 1998.
“The state of Kentucky loves its basketball players and so there are a lot of instances where we do things out in the community or autograph sessions or speaking programs,” Sheppard said. “It’s still a lot of fun being a Wildcat.”
Most recently, Sheppard played in an Alumni Game at Rupp Arena organized by UK head coach John Calipari, which included a reunion of the 1996 squad. The event raised about $300,000 for Kentucky-based charitable organizations.
“Coach Cal has done a wonderful job of bringing the guys together,” Sheppard said. “We’ve done several events together.”
Sheppard closely follows the current team and was one of the Wildcats biggest fans last spring when UK won its first NCAA title since he last cut down the nets in 1998.
“I was a big fan all of last year, and the last several years,” Sheppard said. “There have been really exciting times at Kentucky.”
When asked his favorite moment during his career at UK, Sheppard said “now”, but it has always been that way.
“It was “now” when I committed to Kentucky coming out high school, my first Midnight Madness it was “now”, winning the championships was “now” — whatever was happening at that moment was my favorite moment,” Sheppard said.
“Fourteen years removed from a national championship, “now” is still is awesome. It is so much fun being a former player and being remembered the way we are, and being a small part of a championship team. Every moment is so special.”