With Jevohn Shepherd's high flying/high scoring reputation north of the border, it might surprise some to find out that there are many out there that do not believe he is the best player north of the border. With prospects like Ryan Wright (headed to UCLA) and Maurice Joseph (headed to Michigan State), many are of the opinion that that #1 status belongs to one of those two. Wayne Dawkins, who aside from teaching and coaching at West Hill Collegiate, also has directly trained more than 50 NCAA players and heads up selection committee for Mr. Basketball in Canada, does not share those sentiments.
"Jevohn is the #1 player because he is the total package with so much obvious room to be even better," Dawkins said. "Here you have a kid who athletically, no one in the country compares to. Just no one. He is the closest thing we've had to a Lebron James type of athlete coming out of high school. Dunk right left, standing in the paint…everyone has witnessed what he is able to do athletically. He shoots the three, has a midrange game, can shoot the 15-footer…so he can go get you thirty off of just jumpshots. At the same time, he handles the ball well enough that he can go get you thirty off of the dribble. Then with his athleticism he is going in and getting rebounds. In our qualifying game he had 16 rebounds. He only had ten points…he didn't shoot the ball very well…but everyone was keying in on him. This is playoff time. Teams are looking at him focusing on stopping Jevohn Shepherd, so he stepped up the other areas of his game. 'I'll just go get a bunch of rebounds.' He is able to do so many things as just an athlete…and then as a skilled position guy, whereas some of these other guys are either limited athletically or just not as skilled."
"Maurice Joseph is not as not as good of an athlete as Jevohn Shepherd. It is not even close. At the same time, there are limits to his skill. He is a good shooter and can put the ball on the floor some, but he is not very skilled."
"Ryan Wright is definitely a tremendous athlete, but he is very raw. He is not very fluid and he does not really have a repertoire of moves that he uses. They're trying to work on that with him. He looks like one of those kids that is sort of learning things late. At a late age, he is now learning how to drop step. So he looks somewhat awkward. He is learning to be smooth, whereas Jevohn looks like a ballerina. He looks so smooth and fluid because his fundamentals are very sound and they were sound very early."
As talented as Jevohn is, he does have a significant pitfall to lookout for…and that is the one posed by not consistently facing the level of talent he will see when he laces up his gym shoes for Michigan.
"He has got to take advantage whatever opportunity he has to play a higher level of basketball…basketball that will challenge him," Dawkins said regarding what Shepherd must do as he prepares to head to Michigan. "The work ethic is there, so it is not a question of whether he will put in the work that is necessary…but with him the game comes very easy. In the game yesterday (last Thursday), he didn't even use an up-fake. He is so strong, he just caught the ball and went to the basket. Even if he would have gotten cut off, he shoots so well that he just elevates over whoever is in front of him."
"Today I gave him an analogy of a carpenter and his toolbox. He is a great carpenter, but he has this toolbox that he doesn't necessarily have to use against lesser competition. His challenge is going to be getting into situations against guys that are going to force him to have to do things like square up properly, use his jab fakes to create space, and use up fakes to get guys off of their feet. It's the little parts of the game that he has but he doesn't really get a chance to use. I think that will be his biggest setback heading into college because if he does not have the kind of summer where he is going against that kind of competition, it is not going to happen until he gets to Michigan. That will slow him down a little bit. Is he good enough to make the adjustment fast or early? Absolutely! I believe in him. But it's an area of concern that I have for him."