Shipp getting back in shape
UCLA guard, coming off an injury, playing in summer league
By Jeffrey Dransfeldt, jdransfeldt@VenturaCountyStar.com
August 11, 2006
Josh Shipp waited patiently in the hallway next to the gym. Teammates relaxed nearby.
The statistics arrived and Shipp pored over his totals: 25 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Moments earlier, the sophomore UCLA forward let fans see the progress he's made since a painful surgically repaired right hip ended his season in January.
Shipp joined several UCLA players this summer at the Say No Classic, an NCAA-approved summer league at West Los Angeles College. He is playing on a team called Hank's CTS with UCLA teammate Alfred Aboya. Shipp and Oregon State's Marcel Jones have formed a potent scoring combo that's placed Hank's CTS in contention for a league championship.
Single-elimination playoffs started last weekend and Hank's CTS advanced to today's semifinals with the championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. Shipp showed within three possessions last Sunday how close he is to regaining his freshman form when he averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. He fed a teammate for an alley-oop dunk, led a fastbreak that culminated with a high flying one-hand dunk and faked a defender while calmly hitting a fade-away 3-pointer.
"It's been good for him and he's working really hard with our training staff with his rehab and he's getting closer and closer to 100 percent," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
Shipp's hip injury occurred in the summer league last year. He underwent surgery last September and returned to the court on Dec. 29, 2005. In four games, he averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds before the hip became too painful to continue. He sat and watched UCLA's run through the NCAA Tournament and loss in the championship game to Florida.
"I hear a lot ¿If I was there, I would have helped a lot,' " Shipp said. "But that is in the past. We are going to have a new year. We are focused on that and we're trying to get back to win a national championship."
Shipp returns to a UCLA squad featuring several familiar faces in Lorenzo Mata, Michael Roll, Darren Collison, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Aboya. All of them played this summer. One notable absence is Jordan Farmar, Shipp's close friend, who left for the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I came in with him," Shipp said. "We had a lot of goals to accomplish together and I had to sit out a year it was tough. But he's on to bigger and better things, so I'm happy for him."
With the 6-foot Collison now manning the point, UCLA teammates say there should be little drop off, in any.
"Darren's a great point guard," Shipp said. "He's good at penetrating and kicking it out so we'll be OK."
Said Aboya: "I don't think anything's going to change. We have the same coach, the same mentality."
When incoming UCLA forward James Keefe looked at various schools, he imagined playing with Farmar.
"When I was being recruited, coach Howland was hyping it up, saying ¿He'll find you on the break,' and all that," Keefe said. "But Darren Collison is on the rise."
The one-on-one nature of the summer league allows college players to work on individual moves within a team setting. A league rule, which allows only two Division I players on the same team, creates mish-mash rosters bypassing college rivalries. Hank's Franchise Boys features USC's Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, UCLA's Roll and Mata along with Oregon's Bryce Taylor.
"We all know each other that makes the game more fun," Young said. "After the Say No (Classic) we go back to our home. We go to USC. They go to UCLA. It's like playing against your friend in the backyard."
Young appeared in prime form driving to the hoop for layups and making a variety of mid-range and long-distance shots.
The summer league has provided a release for Young, who lost teammate Ryan Francis, who was shot and killed May 13 during a trip home to visit his family in Baton Rouge, La.
"He was a good person on the court and off the court," Young said. "He was a hard worker and we just are hoping to take that vibe he had that energy that he brought us."
More bad news came June 7 when Tim Floyd announced Pruitt was academically ineligible for the fall semester.
"I've got a long life ahead of me," Young said. "I just can't keep dwelling one thing. I've got to keep my mind focused and stay positive."
On the court, the league allows Keefe and other freshmen to play against Division I competition, develop chemistry with future teammates and see the challenges that come with UCLA's achievements last season.
"It's good to compete against other players," Howland said. "Guys are going to go after our guys because they had success this year and so it's good to have to deal with that. I always think it's a positive."
Shipp finds inspiration to help continue building UCLA's budding program.
"It's motivation. It's pressure. It's all that," Shipp said. "But that's why you play basketball. Go out there, have fun and prove people wrong."