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Reed Sheppard's early impact helped push Travis Perry to Kentucky

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan11/13/23

ZGeogheganKSR

What Travis Perry's commitment means for Kentucky

Reed Sheppard laid out the path to success for Travis Perry.

Separated by just one year in age, the two natives of Kentucky grew up cheering on the Wildcats and eventually turned into top-shelf high school basketball players. As Sheppard has said time and time again, the opportunity of playing for the home state team was too much to pass up. Once Perry saw that it could be done and that it could be done successfully, he decided it was too much to pass up, as well.

Perry, a class of 2024 four-star point guard out of Eddyville (KY) Lyon County, announced his commitment to Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. It was a surprise to the majority of the recruiting world, although perhaps it shouldn’t have been now that we’ve heard him talk in the hours after. Perry also considered Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Western Kentucky. The Bearcats and Rebels were rumored as the favorites even in the morning leading up to his decision. Not even his grandparents knew of where he was going as he took the stage at Lyon County. Head coach John Calipari didn’t learn of Perry’s decision until roughly an hour before.

Once Perry unzipped his jacket and flashed a white Kentucky shirt, a longtime dream was fulfilled.

“All the schools that recruited me did a great job and I had great relationships with really all of them, especially the finalists, but it just came down to being that Kentucky kid from Kentucky, really want to go out there and win for Kentucky,” Perry said during Monday morning’s edition of KSR. “It’s different when you can have a chance to contribute and win for your home state especially it being Kentucky with how great the fans are and how great the basketball is in the state. And really just being able to put on that Kentucky jersey every day and represent it well.”

Perry is coming off a junior season at Lyon County that saw him take home Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the state of Kentucky. Going into his senior season, he’ll look to build on his all-time state scoring record of 4,359 points, which he set during last season’s Sweet 16 state tournament, surpassing the legendary Kelly “King” Coleman. Perry will be the favorite to win Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 2023-24 on a Lyon County team widely expected to be among the state’s top title contenders.

Without even looking at his career point total, it’s clear that Perry is a talented scorer. He’s been filling up box scores at the varsity since he was in seventh grade. Although slightly undersized as a (generously listed) 6-foot-2 point guard, there’s no denying his ability to score the ball. Perry is simply a “basketball player”, which has been Calipari’s favorite phrase to start this season.

Sheppard is another one of those “basketball players” that Calipari has raved about in recent months. Perry has closely watched Sheppard — a four-star, in-state recruit of his own — early on into his freshman season at UK. The success the latter has had so far helped push the former to stay home and follow in the same footsteps.

“I talked to (Sheppard) a little bit about it,” Perry said of his decision. “We’re pretty good friends, we’ve been playing and seeing each other play basketball for a while. To see him doing really well is obviously really good. But I figured he’d have success. He’s a guy that can fit in any system, plays the game the right way for the right reasons. Similar to me, wants to play to be a Kentucky kid playing in Kentucky. Kinda for that legacy and playing the right way to win. He’s having a lot of success and it’s really good to see so I’m really happy for him.”

Sheppard was the fifth-highest-ranked recruit from Kentucky’s prized 2023 class, but he’s quickly proven to be an invaluable piece to this season’s puzzle. Perry will likewise come to Lexington as a prospect ranked lower than his future teammates. But now he’s seen what it takes. The rankings mean nothing once you step on campus. Perry has seen Sheppard do exactly what he plans to do. That’s why he opted for the challenge of playing at Kentucky as opposed to more guaranteed playing time somewhere else.

“Doing whatever it takes,” Perry added of his intentions once he arrives at UK. “Shooting, playing defense, playing hard, whatever it takes really to get the job done and doing whatever’s needed.”

Perry is the No. 87 overall high school senior in the nation according to the On3 Industry Ranking. He joins a 2024 class that includes fellow four-stars Boogie Fland and Somto Cyril. More help could be on the way in the very near future. Perry says he’s played with a couple of Kentucky’s top remaining targets and that he intends to put on his recruiting hat to help try and lock them up.

Lyon County and Perry will open up the 2023-24 regular season on Dec. 5 on the road against Livingston Central. The Big Blue Nation now has extra incentive to follow along on his path back to Rupp Arena.

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