Ray Shipman Commits to Florida

Ray Shipman ended all the suspense a little bit early Thursday when he committed to the Florida Gators. Shipman had been thinking of an unofficial visit to Georgia Tech just to be sure that Florida is the place to be, but after thinking about it while in Charlottesville, Virginia at the NBA Development Camp, he called the Florida coaching staff Thursday afternoon to confirm that he will be part of the basketball recruiting class of 2008.

Shipman, a 6-5, 204-pound wing out of Monsignor Pace in Opa-Locka, has been one of the fastest rising players on the AAU circuit this spring. He averaged 27 points per game at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill back on Memorial Day weekend, showing a consistent outside game that had been missing up to that point. Always known as a slasher that could get to the rack and score in the lane, Shipman added a jump shot that he can knock down consistently and extend all the way to three-point range.

Over the weekend, Shipman, who plays for Matt Ramker’s Florida Rams AAU team, tore up the Florida Elite Camp. He was offered Friday night after showing his stuff playing against the camp counselors — next year’s Gators. In one game, he knocked down a contested three-pointer over 6-6 Jonathon Mitchell, then a little later hung in the air and flipped in a little six-foot jumper that was highly contested by 6-7 Dan Werner.

What impressed everyone at the Florida camp was Shipman’s basketball awareness. He has the ability to see the whole court and showed tremendous unselfishness. In one game when he was playing with the camp counselors, he got to the rack on a couple of drives that he could have easily finished. Instead of going for the tough shot, however, he dumped the ball off to Marreese Speights. Both times the 6-10 Speights dunked and was fouled.

Shipman has a vertical jump in the neighborhood of 38 inches which is why he is one of the best open court finishers in the class of 2008. At the Gibbons tournament in Chapel Hill, he averaged more than six dunks per game.

An excellent student, Shipman has a weighted GPA of 4.7. He plans to major in engineering at the University of Florida.

Shipman joins 5-7 point guard Erving Walker of Christ the King in Middle Village, New York in the recruiting class of 2008. The Gators will sign one more player for sure, but in all likelihood will sign two more in this recruiting class.

Gator Country will have more including quotes from Shipman and Matt Ramker, who is with Shipman in Charlottesville, later this evening.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.