'Zou bound: Carrie Shephard signs with Mizzou basketball
By Chris Pobst
STEELE -- Carrie Shephard didn't know what to expect once college offers began rolling through her email inbox or pouring through the mail.
She was stricken, at first, that the offers were actually for her and that they wanted the 5-6 guard from South Pemiscot High School to consider them as her college destination.
Then, her humorous personality kicked in.
"Once those started coming in I thought, 'Me? Seriously? We're going there! They're giving free food and t-shirts. We have to go there!'"
She received other offers from Duke, George Mason, Southeast Missouri State University, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University and Missouri State as well.
"I would be thankful, stay humble and pray about it," Shephard said. "Getting those kinds of offers was big for me. It made me realize that I could do this and there's nothing stopping you but yourself."
Although she flirted with other destinations, Shephard decided early that she was going to attend the University of Missouri. On Wednesday, she made that commitment final by signing a letter of intent to play basketball for the Lady Tigers.
"There's nothing I don't like about it," Shephard said about the Missouri program. "They're based on faith, the team and coaching staff are awesome. I was going for it."
Shephard has spent the last three years of her high school career at South Pemiscot building a staggering body of work.
She was named the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Class 2 Player of the Year as a junior last season after averaging 35 points per game. She nearly rounded out a triple-double average with 9.6 rebounds, seven assists and 4.5 assists per game all while shooting 51-percent from the floor.
She reached the 1,000-point milestone her sophomore year and has been named to the Class 2 all-state team the last two.
"Carrie is a very talented young lady," Missouri Women's head coach Robin Pingeton said. "She has the ability to do a little bit of everything."
Although not tall, Shephard has relied on her other tools to become one of the most dominant girls basketball players of the area. Those same tools didn't go unnoticed by Pingeton.
"She certainly makes up for her lack of height in her quickness, speed, court vision, heart and toughness," said Pingeton. "She has the ability to score in a variety of ways, she plays with great toughness on the defensive end and has a great understanding of the game. She will definitely add some much needed depth to our point guard position."
Shephard sees herself as a player who is willing to do any and everything to help her team win. Her personality off the court is a mirror image of that.
"I want to do things my other teammates aren't willing to do," Shephard said. "I want to be able to help my team win. If you want me to rebound, I'll take someone out and get the rebound. I'm willing to do what the team needs.
"If you need someone to pep you up, that will be me. If you need someone to talk to, that will be me. Being the team mentor and keeping everyone together."
It's also something that newly acquired South Pemiscot girls coach Brad Phillips noticed from the start.
"She's a great person. A Godly person," Phillips said. "She's somebody that would take care of anybody. She's a great person to be around."
Phillips, who has also coached at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga., left Washburn Southwest High School in Washburn, Mo., earlier this year to move closer to home. His decision to take the position at South Pemiscot was eased after watching game tape of Shephard.
"I started to hear stuff about her and after I got some game tape on here, I knew she was a special player," Phillips said. "To have the opportunity to play for the University of Missouri at the SEC level, it's tremendous."
Shephard realizes it's going to be a bit of a transition playing basketball in Steele for all of her life and then making the jump to Mizzou Arena in Columbia. But, she says she's ready and willing to do whatever necessary to make the move.
"It's going to be a big transition coming from here (motioning towards her home court) to a huge court up there," Shephard said. "I'll go in to play my game and improve my game and be whatever they want me to be. I don't see this as a conclusion. I see it as a beginning. I think of it as a challenge to myself. I think I'm prepared, but I say to myself, 'are you really prepared?' I just want to be an example to the rest of the ballers around here. This is a ticket to a free education. You just have to be able to work at it and make sacrifices for it."