Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 3 | December 2021

By Will Locklin Unfinished business Aisha Sheppard ready to write final chapter of illustrious career As Virginia Tech walked off the floor against No. 2 seed Baylor, a 90-48 loss in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Aisha Sheppard had one thing on her mind: unfinished business. Even after coming off a season in which the Hokies’ guard was an All-ACC First Team selection and the ACC’s third leading scorer with 17.7 points per game, Sheppard still isn’t content as she prepares to write the final chapter in her collegiate career. It’s one that includes the Hokies’ all-time record in three-pointers. One where she was named a 2020 First-Team All-ACC Selection and one in which she was a 2021 AP All-America Honorable Mention. But to Sheppard, individual accolades don’t matter as much as one thing does. Her goal for the upcoming season is to win an ACC championship. She could have transferred to a team in a better position to win a national championship. She could have taken a shot at turning pro. She could have left and entered the workforce, using her bachelor’s degree she earned in three years. Instead, she took one final chance at winning at Virginia Tech. Now, she’s using the extra year of athletic eligibility that was granted to student-athletes from the NCAA due to the global pandemic. “Ultimately, I thought it was God’s plan to stay here for one more year” Sheppard told 3304 Sports in an interview in September. After 1,446 points scored, 471 field goals made, and 308 three pointers made in her illustrious career, many would question what is left for her to achieve. But Sheppard’s mentality is different. She wants to make due on her opportunities afforded to her by head coach Kenny Brooks and Virginia Tech. “We have an opportunity to make due on winning a championship,” Sheppard said. The opportunity to step up and be the team’s leader isn’t a foreign concept for Sheppard at all. She’s been the team’s leading scorer for two years running, but there was a time where chances were harder to come by for Sheppard. Despite being a highly touted five-star recruit out of high school, and Washington D.C.’s 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year, Sheppard accepted a role coming off the bench during her first two seasons, which isn’t a common sight in today’s college athletics landscape. Sheppard, though, trusted the process and worked on her craft while waiting for her moment to shine. “It all happened organically and I wouldn’t change my story for anything,” she said. It’s this patience that’s gotten her to this point—trusting the process and vision that Brooks conceptualized for her. “We were trying to change the culture of a program and there were other paths for her to take but she chose to stick it out because she loves Virginia Tech,” Brooks told 3304 Sports. Sheppard and Brooks have been very close for a long time. She was one of his first recruits when he was first hired by Tech from James Madison in 2016, and describes her relationship with Coach Brooks as ‘familial.’ “He’s been like a dad to me, and he always has been,” Sheppard continued. Sheppard has taken massive leaps as a player every year and despite all her hard work, she still cites her and Brooks’ relationship as a big reason for her growth. 12 Inside Hokie Sports Continued on page 14