Donovan Discusses Shipman, Transfers

There has been much said and written about the number of transfers from the Gator basketball program in recent years and understandably so. Florida has seen David Huertas, Jai Lucas, Jonathan Mitchell, Allan Chaney, Eloy Vargas and Ray Shipman among others make the decision to move on early in their Florida careers.

Those transfers, plus losing six players to pro ball are the key reasons for the depleted roster that Florida has played with pretty much for the past three seasons. It's also why coach Billy Donovan is determined to add at least two players to the roster for next year.

Recently Donovan spoke on Steve Russell's show "Sportscene" on AM-850 WRUF. Here are some of his comments regarding Shipman and other issues relevant to transfers.

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On Ray Shipman's decision to leave:

"Ray is a great kid from a great family. I think sometimes when people see somebody transfer they immediately identify negativity (such as) bad relationships. And it's anything but that. If you look at Ray Shipman's comments there's nothing negative about Florida; nothing negative about the coaching staff or his teammates or the education he was getting."

On the reasons behind that decision:

"He wants a bigger role. He wants more minutes. He wants to do more in a situation as it relates to basketball. David Huertas left because he wanted to take more shots. I think Ray could have served a great role for us. I think there are things that he can do for any basketball team that would be very good but he doesn't want to be a defensive stopper even though he's a good defensive player and has no problem playing defense. He wants a bigger role offensively."

On letting guys go when it may not be in their interests:

"Do I agree with all these young kids the way they view it? No, but they've got to figure it out for themselves sometimes. I did not want any of those guys to leave. I wanted them all to stay, but I also wanted them to be happy. I'm not going to make promises to a player that I can not live up to. I think every kid has an equal opportunity every day at practice to prove (themselves) and earn the kind of role that he wants."

On being able to empathize with guys unhappy over playing time:

"I can easily relate to every player that goes through that because 25 years ago when Billy Donovan finished his sophomore year in college he walked into the coach's office and said he wanted to transfer. It wasn't anything negative I felt towards Providence College. It was that I wanted to play. I was playing just seven or eight minutes a game and I wanted to play."

On how transferring doesn't always work out for either side:

"I look at a guy like Jai Lucas who was playing 30-plus minutes a game. He didn't really want to play off the ball as much. He's a great kid, but he made the decision to leave Florida and goes to Texas and he hardly ever plays. He's got to live with that. Forty percent of all college players never make it to their junior year at the same school. It's not a Florida issue; it's a national issue that's out there right now."

On challenge of replacing guys who transfer or turn pro:

"It's hard to constantly bring in the personnel. I know recruiting-wise people are going to say you have to recruit more guys. That's great. But you know what the problem is? When Jai Lucas and Nick Calathes were here there wasn't a point guard in the United State of America that wanted to come to Florida or even look at Florida, and rightfully so. I couldn't forecast that Jai Lucas after playing all those minutes (as a freshman) would move on. And I couldn't forecast that Nick Calathes was going to have an unbelievable contract offer over in Greece. So (in six months) you go from having a lot of depth in your back court to having very little depth."

On how timing complicates getting those replacements:

"When we lost Nick Calathes the first guy I went to was John Wall and I sat down with John Wall. But back in (the previous) July, John Wall had absolutely no interest in Florida because Nick Calathes was there. There was so much of a relationship to make up in April and it was too late. There was too much work done by too many people.

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I don't know where Donovan got his 40 percent stat, but he certainly didn't make it up. If you check around you find the mid-major and smaller Division I basketball program all have two-to-four transfers on them and those guys had to come from somewhere. Add in the players who go JUCO and are never heard from again and those who turn pro and you can see how the numbers can add up in a hurry.

Florida was fortunate to sign Kenny Boynton right around the time Lucas left UF, leaving the Gators shorthanded for 2008-09. Had they known neither Lucas nor Calathes would be on the team for 2009-10 they would have been able to sign another guard, maybe two in November. By the time they knew in the spring, most top players already had schools. We all know what happened with the two that didn't, Eric Bledsoe and John Wall.


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