Welcome to Houston: Former North Laurel, UK star introduced as a Rocket, will play against Bronny James, Lakers on ESPN on July 12 

HOUSTON, Texas — Former North Laurel High School and University of Kentucky basketball star and current Houston Rocket, Reed Sheppard, had an introductory press conference Tuesday, less than a week after the Rockets took him at the No. 3 spot in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft.

Sheppard was joined with Houston head coach Ime Udoka and general manager Rafael Stone. 

Sheppard let everyone know  in attendance that he’s ready to be a Houston Rocket.

“I can’t wait to finally get here and call Houston my home,” he said.

He also stated his main goals as a Rocket player is to bring an NBA championship to Houston while also stressing the importance of being known as a good teammate on and off the court.

“Obviously, to win a championship (is a goal),” he said. “That’s the main goal. As a basketball player, you want to win at the highest level. You want to be the champion. But at the end of the day, being a guy that everyone looks at and knows he played hard and he played with a lot positivity and was a good teammate. He was a good person off the court. You know, I don’t want to be known as just a basketball player. 

“I think it’s very important to get out in the community and interact with the fans and have good relationships with your teammates and your coaches in the front office and everyone in Houston,” Sheppard added. “Just being that good teammate and community guy that looking back in 20 years they’re not like, ‘oh, he just played basketball. He was a winner. He was a competitor, but also he was a good person.”

Udoka stressed what stood out to him the most about Sheppard was a number of things.  

“A lot of things Reed does obviously stood out,” he said. “The shooting, the IQ.”

Sheppard will also be sporting the number 15 on his jersey. The same number he wore at Kentucky and the same number his father Jeff wore at Kentucky during his playing days.

Sheppard will now switch his focus in the next few days as one of several rookies and young players participating in a mini-camp in Houston due to the summer Rockets preparing for their games in Las Vegas.

It was also noted that Sheppard will make his Rockets debut in next week’s summer-league action, which starts Friday, July 12 in a nationally televised event on ESPN against second round pick (No. 55 overall) Bronny James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

In his only season with the Wildcats, Sheppard averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. He had an impressive shooting percentage of 53.6 from the field and 52.1 percent from beyond the arc. Sheppard showcased his defensive skills by averaging close to a block and 2.5 steals per game.

“I’m super-excited (to get started),” Sheppard said. “They have a really good thing going in Houston. The coach is really good. They have a bunch of really young, athletic guys, and we’ll be able to play fast. It’s going to be fun.I’m super-excited to get out there and learn and take it all in, so I can’t wait. I think the biggest thing is just going in and learning. You have guys like Fred VanVleet that I’ll be able to learn from. Just going in with an open mind, ready to learn, ready to do whatever it takes to win. Just compete and go in and have fun and continue to get in the gym and work on everything that I need to work on.”

Photo Courtesy of the Houston Rockets