Is the state of Georgia becoming a recruiting hotbed for the Runnin' Utes basketball program? It certainly appears that way.
Sophomore PF Javon Dawson will join the Utes in 2011 from Gulf Coast Community College in Cordele, Georgia. Re-joining the Utes in 2012 will be C Jeremy Olsen from Lawrenceville, Georgia. Olsen is currently serving a 2 year church mission. If the recruiting chips fall in their favor, Utah basketball may also add two additional prep stars from the Peach State.
T.J. Shipes is a 2012 PF prospect from Buford High School in Buford, Georgia. T.J.'s mother played basketball at the University of Kentucky, and T.J. is expected to follow in her footsteps by playing college basketball at a D1 level.
Shipes is an under-the-radar recruit that is quickly developing into one of the better big man prospects in Georgia. Shipes has a strong frame (6'8, 225), that could easily add more muscle without compromising speed and quickness.
As a sophomore in 2009-10, Shipes averaged over 14 points per game, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks, and his team finished just 9-16 that season. Last year as a junior, Shipes flourished under a new coach. Buford High improved to 24-7, losing in the state championship game.
Shipes moves extremely well for his size, showing very good athleticism, and the ability to finish above the rim with authority.
"I like to finish above the rim. I work hard, and I play hard. I like to win."
The 2012 big man has been talking to a number of schools, including but not limited to, Utah, Tulane, UAB, Appalachian State, Murray State, Rice, and Cal Poly.
Shipes has received scholarship offers from "Rice, App State, Murray State, Cal Poly, Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, and a few more."
The Georgia big man is looking for a quality education first, but also wants a strong relationship with the coaching staff.
"Definitely a good relationship with the coaches is always a good thing. If you don't have a good relationship with the coaches, it's not going to be very good 4 years there. Then just a good environment, where you're still going to have fun."
Runnin' Ute Assistant Coach Demarlo Slocum and Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak have been the big man's primary recruiters.
"I talked to Coach Slocum, I've talked to him a couple of times. I talked to the head coach. We talked for a while. We talked about the University of Utah, and getting up there for a visit. He was talking about how he coached at a higher level and all that stuff. I like the coaches there a lot so far."
Since his first contact with Utah, Shipes has been trying to learn as much as he can about the PAC-12's newest member.
"I like the school. I automatically wanted to know more about them. And then I talked to the head coach, and I liked him a lot. He's a good guy, and he seems to know what he's talking about and everything. It's definitely a place I'd like to go to."
Though Utah has not yet offered Shipes a scholarship, the Georgia big man has scheduled an official visit to Salt Lake City.
"I'll tour first at their homecoming football game (October 1st). They're going to try and get me and Justin (Seymour) up there at the same time."
Justin Seymour is a 6'3 combo guard also from Georgia, whom the Runnin' Utes are recruiting.
"I know (Seymour) through AAU. I've played with him a couple of times. We played in a gym rat All-Star game a couple weeks ago. We played in the on-the-radar camp a while back, and we've been friends ever since. I'd definitely like to play with (Justin Seymour). He's a good player. He can do it all. He can handle the ball. He can jump. He can dribble and shoot. He's a good player."
When asked if he had any favorites, Shipes listed Utah in his top 3.
"Utah is definitely in the top 3…I don't even know yet (who the other 2 schools are), I just know that Utah is up there. Me and my mom and my coach are supposed to be sitting down and narrowing it down soon. But Utah is the top school right now."
If Utah were to offer Shipes a scholarship, would he commit to the Utes?
"If (Utah) were to offer, I mean, that definitely would put them in a good spot. I think that after the visit, because I want to take the visit and go up there and check it out and everything, meet all the coaches, and figure it all out from there. But if I liked it a lot, I definitely wouldn't wait."
Georgia Big Man to Visit Utes
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