Sheppard, Dillingham taken in top ten

Published 2:02 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

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It was a night of celebration for Reed Sheppard and the rest of his family.

The former Kentucky guard and Kentucky Mr. Basketball was selected as the third overall pick in the NBA Draft on Wednesday night in Brooklyn on his mom’s birthday.

“No more nerves,” Sheppard said on ESPN after his selection by the Rockets. “I’m super excited. This is awesome. Unbelievable — my mom’s birthday today, so it’s going to be a great night. Already has been a great night. So it’s awesome. I’m super thankful.”

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Sheppard’s dad, Jeff Sheppard also was humbled by his son’s selection in the draft.

“(We are) just so thankful — overwhelmed with appreciation, so proud of Reed,” he said. “God’s been so good to our family. We’re so glad to be here.”

Stacey Reed agreed.

“We’re just blessed and thankful to be here and join with my family,” she said. “We’ve got 75 people — family and friends that are here and get to celebrate with them. It’s just an unbelievable day.”

Jay Bilas of ESPN called Sheppard “the best shooter in the draft.”

“What a meteoric rise for Reed Sheppard … he shot 52 percent from three last year for Kentucky. He makes great decisions in pick and roll situations. He can shoot it from deep. He can shoot it off the catch and shoots very well off the dribble.

“(He has) an elite passing feel, very low turnover rate and a very smart defender as well. He’s kind of a free-safety type defender. He gets a lot of steals, deflections and blocks and a very underrated athlete.”

Sheppard said he’s going to do whatever it takes to help the Rockets succeed.

“This is a guy going in,” he said. “He’s looking to learn, you know, he’s going to do whatever it takes to win. He’s going to if it’s not making threes right away, that’s getting teammates involved, whatever it takes to win and be on the court. I’m going to do whatever makes the team better.”

Former Kentucky coach John Calipari, now at Arkansas, was in attendance to support Sheppard and the rest of his former players.

Dilly to Minnesota

It didn’t take long for Rob Dillingham to change teams to begin his professional career.

Moments after he was selected as the 8th pick of the NBA Draft on Wednesday night in Brooklyn, the former Kentucky guard was quickly traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he will join former Kentucky standout center Karl-Anthony Towns.

“t’s just a blessing, for real, to even be here because you work your whole life and you never know if you’re going to make it,” he said. “When you finally get there, it’s just a blessing. Playing with Anthony Edwards and the whole Timberwolves — they were in the Western Conference finals. It’s really just a blessing because I get to learn from a lot of players and veterans and players that are real good. So them helping me is just a plus for me.”

Dillingham added that he didn’t mind being traded on draft night from the Spurs to the Timberwolves.

“It shows that they trust me and they obviously are trusting in me to develop,” he said.”If they trust in me, that’s all I needed. I feel that’s all I need from any team. Them showing me is even more of a blessing, and I get to play with way better players and learn from them. I’d say it’s a blessing to even be here in this situation. I thank the Timberwolves, for sure.”

Dillingham was selected five picks after the Houston Rockets took his former teammate Reed Sheppard at No. 3 in the draft.

“When you talk about being crafty, explosive, high-flying, he has hangtime,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “He can take contact in the air and finish what he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill … He knows what it means to whether it’s come off the bench or have a smaller role and light it up. His scoring ability is incredible.”

Bilas added that Dillingham’s “direction really sets him apart.”

“He’s a shot creator (and) I would say a three-level scorer because he can get to the rim and finish creatively and creates for himself. At times he’s been unfocused on defense and he is small. But when you’re good enough, you’re big enough. This guy is good enough.

“He can score from anywhere on the floor and when he gets on a roll, he can put points up in a hurry and did so last year quite a bit. He has elite speed and quickness. He’s elusive and he’s also a good passer.”

Reeves chosen by Magic, traded to Pelicans


An extra year of college paid off for Antonio Reeves.

The former Kentucky guard was selected in the second round as the 47th overall pick by the Orlando Magic and then was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

“I’m so proud of Antonio Reeves,” former Kentucky coach and Arkansas boss John Calipari said. “He has made himself an NBA player. A three-level scorer who became a defender and a rebounder. I absolutely loved coaching him and seeing his growth.”