Most big men, like ESPN 100 C Karviar Shepherd (Dallas/Grace Prep), go through a different process than prospects at other positions. It’s common for them to be introverted early, almost meek on the floor. Even Greg Oden was afraid of actually hurting the kids he was playing against. One of the keys in the evaluation and evolution of these big fellas is to see if and when they come out of their shell and let their personality shine.
A year ago, Shepherd would look down at the ground when he was talking to you. He wasn’t comfortable speaking for himself and quickly ended conversations. I recall the same thing with Andrew Bynum when he was a junior in high school. He was shy, almost embarrassed by his size and wanted no part of speaking in public. Heading into his senior year, Bynum opened up and not only was he engaging, he was comfortable and guess what? His game exploded. Shepherd’s game is on the cusp of exploding in a similar fashion.
“Last year I didn’t have that mindset of being aggressive,” Shepherd said. “Now I’ve been able to come out and be that way. I look at what I can do better. My offense is getting way better and my flexibility is much better. I’m getting comfortable. I’m getting used to having people in my face with cameras and video recorders.”
You have to love big guys. When they open up, they say the darndest things. “My personality is like Dwight Howard, but my game-style is like Tim Duncan and my favorite player is LeBron James. I'd like to get that combination.”
The Big Fundamental, King James and Superman rolled into one; now that’s a description of a personality if I’ve ever heard of one. Shepherd’s gone from introverted to fun loving and his confidence on the court is on the rise. These are all factors in his ascension.
UCLA, Texas A&M, Louisville, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Kansas, to name a few, roll off his tongue. It's early in the process for him and Shepherd doesn’t have much in the way of criteria for making his decision.
“I’ll look around [at colleges]. Wherever the fit for me is, I’m going to go. I want to go where good players are. They’re going to make me better and I’ll make them better. Whatever that style is, that’s fine,” he said.
Shepherd’s developing a style of his own. Watching him evolve from prospect to player has been fascinating and the best lies ahead.
He sat out last season due to transfer rules, but he’s made up for the lost court time since April.
“It hurt. My heart was hurting. I missed it and now I’m getting it back. I’m slowly getting back and I’m getting better and better.”