One of the first calls that Jessica Shepard made when she found out that she was granted immediate eligibility at Notre Dame was to her 90-year-old grandfather.
He was one of the people to get her into basketball, starting when she was 3 years old. Lately, he’s been the one who was calling her every day, seeing if the waiver that would let her play at Notre Dame right away — instead of sitting out the year that most transfers do — was granted.
“I think he was more excited than anyone else when I told him,” Shepard said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “He’s someone growing up that I always worked out with in the gym.”
Shepard grew up in Nebraska and had dreamed of playing for the Huskers. She got her wish, starring for the team in her two seasons. She shattered the school’s freshman scoring record and became the first player at Nebraska to earn first-team all-conference honors as a freshman.
Her sophomore year she was second-team all-conference, but a coaching change after her freshman season didn’t really help the 6-foot-4 forward. She gave the new coaches a chance, sticking around for her sophomore season before deciding to leave.
“I really enjoyed my time there, but they were going in a different direction by rebuilding and I wanted a bigger challenge,” Shepard said over the summer when she was at the Under-23 USA Basketball camp. “I wanted a chance to compete for championships and thought I had that at Notre Dame.”