Houston coach Ime Udoka says Reed Sheppard a ‘perfect match’ for Rockets

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Reed Sheppard has landed in Houston.

The former Kentucky guard, drafted as the third pick in the NBA Draft last week, was formally introduced by the Rockets in a press conference this week in Houston. He signed a rookie scaled contract that will pay him approximately $45.8 million in the first four seasons. The contract is guaranteed for the first two seasons with team options on the third and fourth year of the deal.

Houston and coach Ime Udoka have high hopes for Sheppard as he prepares for his professional career.

Reed Sheppard signed a contract with Houston Rockets as his parents, Jeff and Stacey, look on Tuesday afternoon. (Houston Rockets Photo)

“The shooting ability, the IQ, [he] has a great background lineage with his parents and if you know about their story, you know he’s raised well and raised in a basketball family and huge community in Kentucky,” Udoka said. “So all those things stood out and then you get to know the person and it was a perfect match.”

Sheppard, who will compete in the team’s summer league games next week in Las Vegas, is taking the same approach from college to the NBA.

“I think just just coming out every game, doing whatever it takes to win, being the guy that it doesn’t matter what, what coach needs, what the team needs, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability,” Sheppard said. “Come in every day and practice with the positive mindset on the whole season and just coming in and working really hard and just being that the guy on the team that will do whatever it takes to win.”

Sheppard said his lone season with the Wildcats helped prepare him for the next level and is anxious to display his skills against the higher-caliber talent he will be facing for the rest of his basketball career.

“At Kentucky, you get better every day,” Sheppard said. “You get to go against the best players in the world. In practice, you have a target on your back every game. I definitely think it has as helped me for being a rookie.”

Sheppard gave insights into his upbringing Tuesday and said his parents, Jeff and Stacey, told their son at an early age that he couldn’t be “soft” on the court. The Sheppards also allowed their son to carve his own path on the hardwood.

“Mom and Dad, they never made me play basketball,” Sheppard said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “It was really cool growing up around them, listening and learning. Having them with me at Kentucky was really cool. They did not miss a game.”

He also added he “learned so much” from his parents.

“They both were really big on the whole basketball journey,” Sheppard said. “The biggest thing that they taught me was to work hard, compete, and don’t let anyone outwork you/“

Sheppard not only wants to make a name for himself on the court, but off the court as well within his new surroundings.

“I do not want to be known just as a basketball player. I think it is important to get out in the community, interact with the fans and have good relationships with your teammates,” he said. “Looking back in 20 years, [I want people to see me] as a winner, competitor and a good person.”

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