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Recruit Has UNM Bloodlines

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Shepard’s Uncle: Ex-Lobo Johnson

A big-time prep player with a big-time family tie to the New Mexico men’s basketball team is making what could be a big-time recruiting visit for the Lobos.

But it’s not automatic that Winston Shepard will land at UNM.

On Saturday, Shepard — a 6-foot-8 forward from the Houston area who plays for Findlay Prep in Las Vegas — told the Journal that he will make an official recruiting trip to UNM for Friday’s Lobo Howl in the Pit.

It’s a venue he knows something about — just not nearly as much as his uncle.

“Yeah, that’s my nephew,” says former Lobo great Marvin “Automatic” Johnson. “I haven’t seen him play. I think he plays in Las Vegas, maybe? Have him give me a call. I didn’t know he was coming for a visit.”

Shepard’s mother, Eurica Johnson, is Marvin Johnson’s younger sister. She is the youngest of 13 siblings, and Marvin said they aren’t very close because “she is about 16 years younger, and she was 2 years old when I left home (in DeRidder, La.).”

Both Marvin Johnson and Shepard said they have met at family reunions, the last time about two years ago.

Eurica played college ball at the University of Texas, as did Shepard’s father Winn Shepard.

The younger Shepard says that while he doesn’t know his uncle very well, he knows Johnson was quite the Lobo star.

“I know what the coaches have told me, and what my mom’s told me,” Shepard says. “He’s obviously never told me. I’ve heard how he was really good … how he was killin’ it in school.”

Johnson holds the Pit’s single-game scoring record with 50 points (March 2, 1978 vs. Colorado State). He averaged 21.9 points a game during his two seasons at UNM, one being the magical season of 1977-78 in which the Lobos went 24-4 and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country.

When asked if he would encourage Shepard to attend UNM, Marvin Johnson said, “I don’t know, I would need to talk to him. I’m not familiar with (Lobo coach) Steve Alford, so I couldn’t speak to that.

“… If I talk to him, and he tells me what he wants to do and where he wants to go, I will assist him with that.”

Shepherd says he won’t sign a national letter of intent until the spring, and he plans to visit all five of the schools he has on his final list.

“New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Oklahoma State and UTEP,” he says.

“I’ve been hearing a lot about (New Mexico), so I just want to see the atmosphere. I want to see how the fans respond to me, what’s the reaction of me being in the city. I want to get a good look at the campus, see the team practice. Ultimately I just want to see if I could see myself fitting in there.”

Findlay Prep coach Mike Peck says that Shepard will be one of the star players on his powerhouse roster this season, and that he can be an impact next year at the Division I level.

“He’s a multiple-position defender, he can guard anyone from a (point guard to power forward), and even some (centers) at our level,” Peck said. “He’s strong, athletic, quick and has a knack for getting it off the glass.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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