Shipley Will Bypass School For Nba Draft

Posted: May 23, 1999

Gene Shipley, one of the most enigmatic basketball players in the area from the time he was a 6-foot-8 eighth grader, has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft one year after his injury-shortened senior season at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

Shipley, who is now 6-9 and says he weighs 245 pounds, wrote a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern, expressing his decision to forgo college for the professional league.

``It was a matter of basketball getting too easy for me,'' Shipley said last night. ``I did real well in junior college, and I really want to see how I'll do at the next level.''

The junior college was San Jose City College in California, which Shipley said he attended without having obtained his high school diploma. He said he stayed there for only one semester last fall and played in 11 games before leaving. He attended classes at Philadelphia Christian Academy, where, he said, he got his high school diploma.

Shipley, who lives in Conshohocken, began his basketball odyssey at Germantown Academy as a ninth grader but left after one year and transferred to P-W, where, as a junior, he helped lead the Colonials to the Class AAAA state championship. That team included John Salmons, who started as a freshman for Miami (Fla.) last season, and Chuck Moore, who just announced his intention to transfer from Seton Hall.

Shipley suffered a broken wrist before his senior season, and that kept him sidelined until the playoffs. His first game of the 1997-98 season was in P-W's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA championship-game win over Hatboro-Horsham, and he played in four state playoff games after that. In that year's Donofrio Classic in Conshohocken, he was unimpressive as his team lost in a blowout.

Shipley said that he did not want to play while at Philadelphia Christian and that his total playing time in the last two basketball seasons has been 16 games. (A player named Shipley, however, was listed in a Philadelphia Christian box score last season.)

``The preseason workouts at San Jose got me in good condition,'' Shipley said. ``This is as thin as I've been since eighth grade. I can jump higher now. When I was in high school, 265 pounds was not a good playing weight.''

He said he had not hired an agent and did not plan to - unless he was drafted. College players who follow that course retain their eligibility under NCAA rules, but that is not necessarily so for others. The NCAA has viewed them as professionals.

``I looked at the early-entry list today,'' Shipley said. ``There were a lot of guys in college who did really well, but some guys still have to prove themselves.

``I'll go to the predraft camp in Chicago,'' he said.

That camp, for top pro prospects, is by invitation only, however, and there is virtually no chance that a player with such limited credentials would be invited.

Shipley said he was leaving all basketball options open, including playing in the Continental Basketball Association or another league, competing overseas, or trying college again.

At least one area expert believes Shipley will have a difficult time moving to the NBA.

``If you're only looking at 60 guys [being drafted], his chances are real slim,'' said Norm Eavenson of Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Scouting Service, ``unless he has a real breakout four days in Chicago.

``He will have to have greatly improved his conditioning and his energy level for a whole game. He has some skills, but in high school, he could have been a much more dominating player but wasn't because of his energy level.

``And the jump from college to pro is a quantum leap.''

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