Relationship drew Shipman to Florida

It didn't take long for Billy Donovan to get back into the swing of things after his flirtation with the NBA. In a matter of two weeks, he developed a relationship so strong with Ray Shipman that it turned into the Gators' second commitment from the class of 2008.

Rayford Shipman is a 6-5, 204-pound swingman that looks to drive to the basket, but is spending most of the summer working on his 3-point shot. He compares himself to Corey Brewer in his ability to take it to the hole, but also wants to be an outside threat like Lee Humphrey.

Whatever intangibles he brings to the Florida Gators, he's excited that he'll wear the Orange and Blue in the future.

"It was getting to the point where I wanted to get the recruiting off my back," Shipman said. "I started looking at different opportunities, and coach [Billy] Donovan and I bonded pretty good. The other opportunities, I dealt with the assistants. But with Florida, I dealt directly with coach Donovan. I knew that if I was dealing with the headman in charge, it had to be good. I liked the opportunity. I get along well with Nick [Calathes] and Chandler [Parsons]. It's not too far from home. I can represent my state. All in all, it's a good opportunity, and I can't wait to get up there."

Donovan did his homework on Shipman, and the work paid off.

"He was talking to my head coach at Pace," Shipman said. "He found out everything about me all the way back to my ninth grade year and how I‘ve improved as a player."

It's Donovan's commitment to helping Shipman develop as a player that led him to Florida. Shipman's dedication to improve his outside shot originated from the Gator head coach.

"I'm working on it like crazy," he said. "Coach Donovan is talking about what my game can be in 4-5 years, and he's showed me how much it can help my game. That's what really set me off. It wasn't just what I could do for him, but it was he could do for me."

Shipman's not just focused on his offense, though, he also knows how the Gators play defense and knows that may be what gets him on the floor when he gets on campus.

"My coach has been telling me all along that if I want to get a lot of playing time at the next level, I have to step up my defense," he said. "Florida plays a similar style of defense as we do at my high school, so it will just be a matter of me making the transition to a faster game. But I understand the basic concepts of what coach Donovan wants to do. Now that I've committed, I can pay more attention to what they do, so I can concentrate on what I need to work on before I get there."

Shipman chose the Gators over Georgia Tech, Florida State and Kansas State. He's only had the offer from the Gators for about week after visiting the campus during UF's elite camp. He'll spend the next month on the road competing in tournaments in Las Vegas, Ohio and Tampa before heading home to spend time with his family. It's through the summer circuit that he has developed strong relationships with Calathes and Parsons.

"We've been playing on the summer circuit since we were little," Shipman said. "I've known those guys for a long time."

With Shipman's commitment, and if Erving Walker sticks to his commitment, the Gators only have one scholarship available for the class of 2008 not considering any changes to the current roster.

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