Hope on the Horizon

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Florida incoming 2008 freshmen Ray Shipman learned a bit more about the intensity of the Florida-Kentucky rivalry over the weekend.

Booed during pregame introductions at the Derby Classic in Louisville, Ky., when he was announced as a Florida signee, Shipman responded with an 18-point performance, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

After each 3-pointer, Shipman motioned his arms in a Gator chomp, further drawing the ire of the crowd.

“It was at Freedom Hall, so there were a lot of Kentucky fans,” Shipman said. “They were giving me a hard time during the game, but they were pretty nice to me afterwards.”

The 6-foot-5 Shipman, recently named Florida’s Mr. Basketball, projects as an athletic wing player, something the Gators lacked this past season. Shipman said he’s spent much of the spring working on his defense and his jump shot to complement his ability to drive to the basket. He recently received a workout plan from Florida associate coach Larry Shyatt to get ready for conditioning when he arrives on campus in late June.

The Opa Locka native also is winding down his senior year in high school. Shipman is scheduled to graduate from Monsignor Pace High School on May 23. Earlier this month, he took his mom, Rosalind, to the senior prom.

“When I was younger, I always told her I was going to take her,” Shipman said. “She didn’t believe I was going to do it.”

Incoming Florida 6-foot-9 center Kenny Kadji also played at the Derby Classic, scoring eight points on three-of-five shooting from the floor. Kentucky signee Darius Miller finished with six points and three assists while Georgia signee Howard Thompkins, a 6-8 forward/center, finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.