Hoops star going on display

JASON PAUL -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

TORONTO'S JEVOHN Shepherd, considered the top graduating high-school basketball player in Canada, has been invited to a prestigious international all-star game in Memphis. The 6-foot-5 swingman will participate in the Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 at FedEx Forum. The game will feature the best teenage players in a U.S.-versus-the World format.

"I know it's big and a good accomplishment to get invited," Shepherd, 18, said last night. "There will be a lot of attention on the game, so I want to play well."

There are 40 current NBA players, including Dirk Nowitzki, Quentin Richardson, Jermaine O'Neal and Kevin Garnett, who have played in the showcase in previous years. Two players on this year's World squad already have declared for the NBA draft.

The event gained attention in Toronto last year when NBA hopeful Ivan Chiriaev, who was living in Oakville, was invited, but never wound up playing.

"It says a lot when (Shepherd) was picked over any other Canadian,"said Wayne Dawkins, Shepherd's coach at West Hill Collegiate. "He is going to be seen by a lot of NBA scouts there."

Shepherd, who averaged 28 points a game this season, had a dozen high-major colleges heavily recruiting him -- including top-ranked Illinois, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and Utah -- and settled on the University of Michigan. He also recently participated in a photo shoot for Slam Magazine and will be featured in its June issue.

Dawkins, who also groomed University of Connecticut forward Denham Brown, had high praise for Shepherd's combination of athleticism, talent and overall character.

"If he finishes off well, people will be putting him in that class as one of the best (high school) players ever produced in Canada," Dawkins said. "And if you combine that with his character, he could be one of the greatest of them all out of Toronto."

After the Hoop Summit, Shepherd's last game in Toronto will be at Dawkins' annual all-star event -- the all-Canada Basketball Weekend -- to be held April 30 at Centennial College.


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