University of Kentucky

Jeff Sheppard makes Big Blue history once again

Jeff SheppardProbably best known as one of the Comeback Cats from the 1998 NCAA Championship team, today Jeff is part of a team making a different kind of comeback as part of an effort to bring back a piece of UK’s basketball history.

Recently, Sheppard has been working with University of Kentucky Archives on a special project to digitize and restore video footage and audio tape of the 1958 National Championship basketball team. “I heard about the fundraising initiative from the UK library to restore the old films of UK’s past and I wanted to be a part of the solution,” says Sheppard.

“Jeff loves athletics and he understands the importance of UK basketball history,” says Deirdre Scaggs, associate dean, special collections, at UK Libraries. “He was instrumental in raising awareness during the UK Libraries tipoff celebration for the Big Blue Sports Archives.”

The film of the 1958 championship game contains no audio and has been digitized and restored with the help of Wazoo Sports Inc., where Sheppard is vice president of business development. “At Wazoo Sports we love to air the Classic UK basketball games for the fans to enjoy, so it made perfect sense to partner with the UK Library and help them with the initiative and get this awesome footage out to the fans,” says Sheppard.

Audio of Claude Sullivan, the original “voice of the Wildcats,” calling the game, exists separately and has been digitally synced with the video footage. The result is an exclusive, original documentary of the 1958 NCAA Championship game and selected highlights from the 1958 season, a portion of which is narrated by Adolf Rupp and Harry Lancaster. “The sights and sounds of UK sports are captured on fragile media that is deteriorating every day. It’s a race against time to preserve them for future generations,” says Scaggs. “With Jeff’s support we have been able to save some of that legacy.”

Sheppard (1993-1998) was a member of two national championship teams and was named to the All-NCAA Region Team and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 1998. After graduating from UK, Sheppard played professionally in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks and later played three seasons in Italy. He retired from basketball in 2001.

Jeff is married to former UK women’s basketball player Stacey Reed and they have two children, Madison and Reed. Together they own 15inc, a private label apparel company, in London, Ky. In his free time, Jeff enjoys coaching his kids’ sports teams and volunteers with Hal Roger’s basketball camps at free clinics called “Shoot Hoops, Not Drugs” aimed at keeping kids off drugs. He also helps Stacey with her full-time ministry, The Backpack Club, which helps to feed needy children.

To purchase a copy of the 1958 championship DVD, visit www.shopwazoosports.com. To see images and more from the Big Blue Sports Archives, please visit exploreuk.uky.edu.

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