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July 1, 2001Remember summer break back when you were in high school? Relaxing on the beach, hanging out with your friends, traveling across the country to play basketball with coaches, scouts, and recruiting experts dissecting your every move? Ok, most of us don't remember that last one. It's a fact of life, though, if you're a promising young basketball player, and it's certainly the case for Hopkins junior-to-be Kris Humphries.
Kris is also working to expand beyond the big-man image (that's tough to do when you're 6'8" and 215 pounds and still have two years of high school left) by improving on his perimeter game (shooting, ball-handling, and passing). He's already a threat from 3-point range and has impressed people with that as well as the ability to blow past defenders when they come out to challenge his shot. While he also has good low post moves and isn't afraid to bang inside, Kris sees himself as a small forward on the college level and possibly even a shooting guard in the NBA. He definitely has the right role models, as Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady are the two main players he tries to pattern his game after.
Unfortunate circumstances this past winter also caused Kris to work on a few things he wasn't necessarily planning on. That's because Kris suffered a broken right thumb (his first major injury) last December that caused him to miss about two months of the season. Kris broke the thumb while pinning a blocked shot up against the backboard. In fact, he actually blocked the shot so forcefully that a bone in his thumb severed the skin. Needless to say, Kris has now learned to block shots more gently so he's able to control the ball (and not break any more bones) - something that coaches really love. Having his right hand out of commission for a while also helped Kris develop a nice left-handed shot, although to his father's dismay he's gone away from it now that his right hand is back to 100%.
Of course everybody (even a basketball star) needs some free time, and when Kris gets some he likes to hang out with his friends, play tennis and ping-pong, and have fun at the lake. You see, Kris is a natural when it comes to the water. While everyone's focused on his basketball abilities now, he may have been even more highly regarded as a swimmer when he was younger. In fact, when Kris was 13, he held national youth records in four events including 50- and 100-meter freestyles and 50-meter backstroke (remind anyone of Tim Duncan?). It's that kind of natural athletic ability that could be lethal when combined with a frame that might be approaching 6'10" and 240 pounds coming out of high school.
That's why for the past 6 months or so, most people have considered Kris to be the top basketball prospect in Minnesota for the class of 2003. That's certainly my opinion, and it also appears to be the opinion of the Gopher coaching staff as Kris was their guest at numerous games last season. Now that he's had the opportunity to showcase his talents on the national level, people around the country have definitely taken notice.
That's evidenced by the who's-who list of schools recruiting Kris, which includes Minnesota, Kentucky, UCLA, Connecticut, Iowa State, Georgetown, Indiana, Purdue, Boston College, Virginia, Texas, and Northwestern. Iowa State, Boston College, and the Gophers have already offered scholarships, and others are ready to offer as well.
Geography majors can probably eliminate a few of those schools, because Kris says he definitely wants to go to college in a major city. He's also looking for a coaching staff that does a good job of developing players and preparing them for the next level. Who's on the team will also be a big factor, since Kris wants to make sure he fits in well wherever he winds up.
While Minnesota is by no means a lock to sign Kris in two years (Kris doesn't have a list of favorites yet), Gopher fans have to be encouraged by the fact that his father, William Humphries, was a two-time 2nd-team all-Big 10 (and Academic all-Big 10) right guard for the Gopher Football team under coach Joe Salem. Kris' mother, Debra, is a U of M graduate as well.
There's more for Gopher fans to be encouraged about. Kris' father has met with Coach Monson and has good things to say. He feels Minnesota is a program on the rise and says they'll definitely be in Kris' final five when he gets to that point. As for Kris' take on the Gophers, he thinks the coaches are very good and thinks talented newcomers like Rick Rickert and Jerry Holman (and others) will really help the program. In fact, Kris said he would like the idea of playing with Rick if he's still at Minnesota in two years.
Throw in the fact that Kris has been seeing wearing a Gopher hat and other Maroon & Gold garb on numerous occasions, and you have to like Minnesota's chances. We could know his collegiate choice sooner rather than later, because Kris says he definitely wants to make a decision before his senior year so he can focus on basketball and his development.
Gopher fans will definitely be waiting with their fingers crossed until then.
Talk about Kris Humphries on the Gopher Basketball message board.
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