Reed Sheppard is officially turning pro.

Kentucky coach Mark Pope was hoping to persuade Sheppard into a return to Lexington next season, but the talented guard will instead enter the 2024 NBA Draft.

“Big Blue Nation, I’m just a little boy from London, Kentucky, with a big dream,” Sheppard said in his announcement. “Playing basketball at the University of Kentucky was a huge part of my dream. I’m so thankful to wear the blue and white jersey that represents my family, my friends and the hard-working faithful fans of Big Blue Nation.

“Kentucky is home. Kentucky will always be home. However, there is another part of my dream: to play basketball in the NBA. I believe it is time to pursue that dream. Therefore, I will be entering my name into the NBA Draft today. BBN, you have been with me from day one. Faithful and passionate. I’m asking you to go with me on this journey. I’m looking forward to taking you with me. I’ll represent you with all the characteristics that make us Kentuckians: passion, humility, perseverance, sacrifice and joy. And one day, I’ll return. To family, to friends and to Kentucky — my home. I love you, BBN. Thank you.”

Here’s video of Sheppard’s declaration:

Sheppard did not enter the 2023-24 as an obvious one-and-done candidate, but he played his way into being a potential lottery pick in the 2024 draft over the course of the season. He was one of the most efficient scorers in the country in 2024, particularly from 3-point range. He made a staggering 52% of his 3-point attempts last season and finished the year with a true shooting percentage of 69.9%.

Defensively, Sheppard’s fit at the next level isn’t as clear because of his 6-foot-3 frame. However, he was very productive on that end as a Wildcat. He averaged 2.5 steals and 0.7 blocks per game and was generally a disruptive force on the perimeter.

Sheppard could go as high as the top 5 in the 2024 NBA Draft, which is generally considered to be a weak draft class. He was the No. 7 pick in ESPN’s latest mock draft, which was revealed earlier this week.

With Sheppard’s decision now final, Pope has some additional clarity about what UK’s roster will look like in 2024-25. The Wildcats are expected to continue recruiting the transfer portal in the coming days and weeks.

The 2024 NBA Draft will be held from June 26-27.