Herz Likes Shipman's Game

When I spoke with American Heritage Coach Danny Herz about his former players Kenny Boynton and Eloy Vargas, I also took the opportunity to ask him about two other guys of interest to Gator fans.

Herz coached against Florida's Ray Shipman several times when Shipman was at Miami Pace. He has done the same against Brandon Knight who is considered one of the top five high school players in the country for the upcoming season. Shipman is readying to a dramatic increase in his role with the Gators while Knight is in the process of selecting the school he will sign with in November.

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LV: Having seen as much of Ray as you have over the years, what's your opinion of his ability to take on a greater role and play significant minutes in the Gator backcourt next season?

DH: I think Ray Shipman is going to be an absolutely great surprise for the Gators this coming season. He was Mr. Basketball. He knows how to play. The role he was put into last year was to be somewhat of a defensive stopper because he had the ability to do that and other people could take on other roles. I think this will give him a chance to play and contribute in other ways with his athleticism and ability to make plays in transition. Ray Shipman can really play and he's going to be very good for the Gators this season.

LV: Do you see Ray and Kenny having complimentary games in that both like to take it to the basket?

DH: Yeah, and they'll give the Gators something you haven't seen in the last couple of years and that's speed and athleticism. I know Coach Donovan is looking forward to getting them both out there on the press and using them defensively to make the offense role. That ability on defense will let them score some easy points. They are good friends and already have some good chemistry and I think they're going to help us out a lot. I say us, you know because I'm a Gator too.

LV: The next great one coming out of South Florida is Brandon Knight. As a player what is it that makes him so special?

DH: Brandon Knight is just on a terrific level. He's a quiet competitor but obviously he has the fire. He plays at Pine Crest which is right down the road and while we are rivals we have a very good relationship. His work ethic is second to none and he's a winner. He can go it all and for the Gators' sake let's hope he wants to be a Gator.

LV: Along that line are you involved in that in any way? What do you know about his recruitment?

DH: When it comes to him I'm on the outside looking in. It's not an easy process having been through it with my guys the last two years. He seems to have a good family that's very grounded and very intelligent and I'm sure he'll make a good choice. If Coach Donovan and Coach (Rob) Lanier are on the attack they're going to be right in the mix there.

LV: Talk about the relationship between Brandon and Kenny.

DH: They shared the backcourt the last couple of years when they played together in AAU ball. They were fantastic together. It was kind of a Batman and Robin sort of thing where either one could be Batman one day and Robin the next day. You never know is Brandon might want to blaze his own trail and do his own thing, but let's hope they want to play together again.

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It can't hurt having someone that positive about the Gators coaching one of the top programs in the state and it will be very interesting to see how things play out with Knight. Many believe he's good enough to be a "one-and-done" type player.

Indications are that Florida, Miami and Duke are the top of the list followed by Kentucky and Connecticut.

Herz made his comments on my show on WRUF AM-850. You can listen in weekdays from 4:00–6:00 either in Gainesville or online @ am850.com.


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