(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Jessica Shepard was rewarded for her hard work and dedication on the basketball court on Thursday as she signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge.
The Buffalo Island Central Lady Mustang was honored with a signing ceremony and reception at the Mustang Athletic Complex with her family, friends, teachers, and student body there to cheer her on.
The signing ceremony added to the already festive Homecoming Week spirit as students gave her a standing ovation at the end of the signing ceremony.
BIC Girls Coach Stan Fowler spoke about Shepard's accomplishments throughout her high school career.
"She has won about every award there is to win - All NEA, Regional MVP, Conference MVP, All State, All State Tournament, named Best Under the Sun list, Rookie of the Year, Player of the Week, Shawn Tilley Award, and the list keeps on going," Coach Fowler said.
"The thing I have always loved about coaching Jessica is she is so intense. She wants to win more than any player I have ever known. I am excited for Coach Halford (Williams Baptist College coach) who will take her to the next level. Coach Kinard (former BIC girls coach) had her since she started. He helped develop her and I have been able to reap the rewards of it the last two years.
"She can score, but she doesn't mind if she doesn't score all the points. It is all about the win. She is the best player I have ever coached."
Coach Fowler said since Jessica's ninth grade until now, BIC has won 108 games and only lost 29.
"That is incredible. Jessica has scored 2,903 points since her ninth grade year. That is outstanding. Like I said, she doesn't really know how many points she scores," Fowler said. "Scoring is not her main thing. She looks to pass, she looks to defense. She is all for what it takes to win."
Coach Fowler introduced Williams Baptist Coach Carol Halford.
"I want to thank the administration, coaches, her family, and BIC School," Coach Halford said. "We are so proud to sign an athlete from Northeast Arkansas. We are pleased to sign an athlete of her caliber, the caliber of Jessica Shepard. We can tell she is a wonderful student/athlete. I can tell she has a lot of friends here at BIC and she will have a lot of friends at Williams next year. She will be an asset to our team. Every time I watched her play, I was in awe. She can do it all. She can handle the basketball well, she can shoot the 3-point jumper, she can shoot the short jumper, she can go to the rack, and she plays at the intensity level it takes to play college ball. The scholarship is worth approximately $15,500 per year."
Jessica is the daughter of Sherrie and Patrick Shepard.
On hand for the signing were Jessica's mother, her grandmother, Dorothy Puckett, and her brother, Josh Shepard.
A reception was held following the signing ceremony.