LAFAYETTE — He didn’t necessarily think he would have a chance to get there, but Louisiana-Lafayette senior guard Kasey Shepherd is on the cusp of adding a nice comma to his career.
After going off for a career-high 28 points in the CollegeInsider.com tournament’s opening round against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Texas native is now just 17 points shy of becoming the 43rd player in program history to score 1,000 career points.
“To see him sit out half of his sophomore year, to be injured a little bit, it would mean a lot for me and for him, certainly,” coach Bob Marlin said. “He’s a self-made player.”
Shepherd isn’t shy about saying that milestone is a goal he wants to achieve. It’s conceivable that he could reach that figure in Saturday’s CIT second-round game at Furman, but Shepherd doesn’t want to put all of his eggs in one basket.
“It would be a pretty cool accomplishment along my little journey here,” Shepherd said. “Hopefully we get a few more games and I get a couple cracks at it to be able to reach that goal, get a nice little ball to take home with me after graduation.”
It’s also a milestone he thought he wasn’t going to be able to reach.
After his team lost to Little Rock in the Sun Belt Conference tournament semifinals, Shepherd resigned himself to believing his career was over.
“After we lost, I kind of had my mindset that that was it for me; I was done,” Shepherd said. “I was kind of ready to start focusing on school, but (the CIT) gives us an opportunity to play and do what we love to do for a little longer, and that’s a blessing in itself.”
About two-thirds of the way through the season, Marlin had a conversation with Shepherd about what he would need to do to get to 1,000 points by the time the SBC tournament wrapped up.
According to Marlin’s memory, Shepherd would’ve needed to score somewhere between 10 and 12 points per game over the rest of the season to reach 1,000. But then Shepherd fell into a funk.
After scoring a then-career-high 27 points against South Alabama, Shepherd was 175 points away from 1,000, meaning he would need to average around 12 points per game to reach 1,000 in the conference tournament.
But then he averaged seven points over his next five games and, after a brief uptick in a three-game stretch against Arkansas State, Little Rock and Texas-Arlington, he really started to struggle.
“He had a three- or four-game stretch there where I don’t think he got 10 (points) total,” Marlin said.
It was actually 11 points. Shepherd scored six points on 1-for-9 shooting at Texas State, was held scoreless for the first time all year against Troy, scored two points in 12 minutes against South Alabama and then had three points in 22 minutes against Georgia Southern.
“He was going to have to have a couple big games,” Marlin said.
He has done that. Shepherd followed that rough stretch by scoring 20 or more points in three of the next four games, bringing him to his current position 17 points shy of 1,000.
His points have come in bunches, too. He started 0-for-3 from the field against Corpus Christi and was scoreless for the first 16 minutes before he caught fire, scoring 28 points in a roughly 20-minute span of game time.
“You get in a zone and the basket just seems to open up, and after that it’s a lot of fun,” Shepherd said.
“(Former Cajuns player) Bryant Mbamalu used to always say, ‘All it takes is one.’ That stuck with me.”
Getting to know you: Furman
Top player: Senior guard Stephen Croone averages 16.7 points and 5.5 made free throws
Stat to know: Furman has lost once in 15 home games this season.
Last time out: In their first-round CIT game, the Paladins beat Louisiana-Monroe 58-57 on Daniel Fowler’s basket as time expired.