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Michigan Couldn't Be Beat With Shepherd (Part 1)

<p>As was revealed on GBW's premium message board last night, <b>Jevohn Shepherd</b> pledged to Tommy Amaker and the Wolverines yesterday. His coach provided some excellent incite into the path his star player took to reach this point.</p> <p><em>For all previous GBW stories on Jevohn, (including those from all of the camps we've witnessed him at), check out the <a href="http://michigan.theinsiders.com/2/276642.html">Basketball Recruiting Primer</a> on the left nav bar.</em></p>


Jevohn Shepherd was largely an unknown in most media circles, but he has long been on the radar of the Michigan Wolverines. Back in February GBW broke the news regarding the Maize and Blue’s interest in a high-flying wing north of the border. Shortly thereafter, he made an unofficial visit to Michigan and it was clear that that the top school on his list resided in Ann Arbor. Everything done between then and now was executed with an eye on a goal of earning a scholarship offer from Tommy Amaker. After a long summer of big time camps and escalating performances, Jevohn finally received the tender that he set out to earn all those months ago. Yesterday, the normally reserved Shepherd displayed a substantial amount of emotion (as far as he’s concerned) when he flashed a smile and broke the news of his commitment to GBW.

“Coach Amaker offered me a scholarship and I accepted it,” Shepherd said. “I had an idea that one might be coming, but I didn’t know it was coming this soon. I didn’t hesitate in committing.” While the timing may have caught Jevohn off guard, it wasn’t as surprising to us. Coming off of very strong performance in tournaments in Las Vegas and Kansas City the interest displayed by other schools reached a fever pitch similar to that seen after an open gym showing he had in Toronto in front of college coaches a few months back. Kansas and Utah began calling and Georgia Tech joined Rhode Island and Pepperdine in extending scholarship offers. Even with those options, Jevohn’s High school coach at West Hill (Wayne Dawkins) never doubted that Michigan was still the team to beat. “Those other schools would have had a really tough time because Michigan had become the standard that he compared them to in order to figure out what he was going to do,” Dawkins said. “He thought too highly of Michigan for them to be knocked off.”


Jevohn at the Weber Tourney in DC

That new suitors started to ring his phone off of the hook didn’t really come as a surprise to Dawkins, but it may to those that haven’t been him watching closely. That’s because catching him once or twice just doesn’t provide over the past few months doesn’t provide an accurate picture of this player. The first time we saw Shepherd was at the Charlie Weber tournament in DC back in April. His early games in that competition were a bit rocky as he adjusted to a new team and a new setting. However, our sources informed us that in later games he settled down and had big scoring efforts down the stretch. We then ventured up to Toronto to watch him in an annual all-star game dubbed “Rumble in the T-Dot.” It was there that we saw what all of the hubbub was about. We finally caught more than just a glimpse of the spectacular athleticism he possesses. Dunks in traffic, hangers in the lane, windmills, a dunk contest title…you name it and he did it in spectacular fashion. It that setting he brought his entire game to the forefront. After seeing that performance, our expectations for his play increased in what would be his first real test stateside, the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Richmond, Virginia.

At the Players Camp Jevohn competed against 100 of the best prep players in the United States and performed in front of many recruiting analysts for the first time. Playing on one of the worst teams at the camp (winless in 4 days of competition), Shepherd struggled to find his comfort zone and was largely tentative the first for the first few days. As was the case at the Weber, however, by the last day we noticed that he had picked up his play…even leading the team in scoring a few times. Still, after his lackluster showing there, there were many questions regarding how talented Shepherd actually is/was. For us, though, it was never a question of his talent. It was more a question of consistency and whether he could get comfortable and put forth his “A game” south of the Canadian border. When we’d seen him in Canada he was a high-flying wing that could undoubtedly play with any prospect in the country, but when we saw him in the states there were many times when he just didn’t stick out.


Jevohn Shepherd goes up strong at the Players Camp

In a conversation with Jevohn earlier in the spring, he mentioned to us that he was looking to prove that he belonged and that his name should be mentioned with ALL of the top players…not just those from Canada. After a non-descript performance in Richmond, we were looking for him to pick up his play in Indianapolis at the Nike All-American Camp. He did that. Despite being hampered by a bum ankle, it was obvious to us that he was much more fluid on the court and really had a feel for what was going on. He didn’t score a ton of points, but he started to show his all-around game. Dawkins told us that there was a very good reason for that. “When he went to the NBA Camp, he had never been to a camp before,” Dawkins said. “You’re talking about a kid that had never even been to a kid’s camp in the states. So his first camp experience in the states was with 100 of the top players in America…and he’s a kid coming from Canada. The adjustment he needed to make mentally just took a little bit of time. He had to figure out how to make friends and get along in a new environment. Going into Indianapolis he had learned how to make adjustments mentally, emotionally, and then physically with his game.”

Check back for part 2 a little later!


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