For some high school basketball players, it's all about basketball. There are no thoughts to academics and for that reason, many get left behind or are forced to go to prep school because their grade point averages and/or test scores are not up to par.
But when talking about Miami Monsignor Pace shooting guard Rayford Shipman, that is simply not the case.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior is averaging 20 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds per game while leading the Spartans to a 13-5 record following a very difficult 66-63 loss to Fort Lauderdale Dillard Saturday night in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Classic at Miramar High School.
"That was one of the best games we played this year because we've been struggling lately," Shipman said of the Dillard game.
Pace lost four games during the Christmas holiday including dropping games to Pompano Beach Ely, American Christian, Tennessee's Liberty Tech and a shocking blowout against Miami Springs.
"We should have won this game, but we didn't close it out. We have to finish off games like this."
But it's not the points per game or the rebound or the assists that are the main ingredient to anything when dealing with Shipman and/or his family.
"We just got our report cards and I got a 4.5 grade point average and my dad was really upset because it fell from 4.6," Shipman said.
The junior has not taken the SAT or ACT yet, but says he did very well on his PSAT. However, it starts in the classroom for Shipman and gets taken onto the basketball court and possibly the football field again next Fall.
Shipman, who played football as a freshman and was a two-way starter at wide receiver and safety, gave up football as a sophomore and junior because it simply wasn't fun anymore, but the itch has returned to strap on the shoulder pads and helmet.
"No one knew that I decided to quit playing football when I did," Shipman said. "But I told my mom I wasn't having any fun playing football when I decided to stop playing so she said you shouldn't do anything that isn't fun anymore. But now I want to play again."
Which means, Shipman, who coaches consider a potential future NFL safety and draws numerous comparisons to former UM safety Sean Taylor, could end up playing both sports in college at a high major level if he does decide to play football again for the Spartans.
"It's almost a definite that I am going to play football," Shipman said. "The new coach said he doesn't have a problem with me playing AAU basketball so it makes the decision a lot easier."
But right now while he contemplates playing football the list of high major Division I programs that are recruiting him to play basketball is long. It includes Miami, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson.
And Miami is among the top choices for Shipman who said the small crowds at the BankUnited Center don't bother him right now because he could be a part of the group that makes UM a contending basketball program. He was at the Duke game Sunday evening to check them out in person again.
"It doesn't bother me cause I think with Dwayne (Collins), Eddie (Rios) and me, we can turn it around at UM," Shipman said. "I'll definitely be at the Duke to check it out and see how they do."
The possibilities of playing football at UM are also very appealing. He said he gets text messages from UM assistant coach Jorge Fernandez daily in reference to basketball, but they join the list of schools that send Shipman texts on a daily basis.
On one occasion this year, Shipman said that he went to a Northwestern High School football game wearing and LSU t-shirt and got a call from the coach of another school.
"I was wearing the LSU t-shirt and got a call from C.Y. at Georgia Tech," Shipman said of the call from Tech assistant Charlton Young. "He said I heard you were wearing that LSU shirt. You need to take that off. Being that C.Y. is from Miami I know he's got spies all around."
That was one of the amusing incidents Shipman has gone through during the recruiting process, but he was quick to silence any rumors of him transferring out of Pace which has been running rampant on message boards lately.
"I am not leaving Pace," Shipman said. "That's ridiculous. Coach (Mark) Lieberman has been with me since day one. I am not going anywhere. Right now, we are just concentrating on this season and trying to win a state championship."
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached by emailing him at email@example.com
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