VETTEL: Shipman Commitment Significant

The first public commitment to the Gator basketball team in the post-Magic era is a very positive one for a number of reasons. Rayford Shipman is one of the top three or four players in the state and looks like a true two-guard who will be a bit taller than average at that spot.

The 6-5 Rayford Shipman averaged almost 25 points a game for a Monsignor Pace team that won the FHSAA 4-A State Championship.

But no matter how talented this kid is, his talent alone does not make him a special commitment for the Gators. He is a standout student carrying better than a 4.0 weighted GPA and is looking at majoring in engineering. That's not the typical major you hear prep basketball players talking about.

But as far as I'm concerned there is a factor that trumps both talent and academics in making this so significant. Another aspect of his background that makes Shipman a notable addition to the Gator squad - Geography.

Shipman will be the first top prospect from Miami to join the Gators since Brent Wright and Udonis Haslem. Since the two of those guys and Major Parker joined up with the Gators early in the Donovan era, Florida has not done very well recruiting the southern part of the state. They got Bonnell Colas and the overmatched Jimmie Sutton and that's it. No, I'm not counting Taurean Green who spent just his senior year at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale.

The Gators have continued to play a game in Miami most years in an effort to maintain a presence there, but it has not resulted in a pipeline of talent. That's not a recruiting shortcoming. Frankly, the area has not produced enough top prospects in recent years. But it is still important to make it clear to anyone who recruits in Florida that the Gators will be players for any big time talent in Dade County.

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