Kris Humphries is now officially the newest member of the 2003 Gopher Basketball recruiting class. Like many Gopher fans, I've been waiting to say those words for a long, long time (roughly 2-1/2 years). It's certainly been an up and down ride, and the possibility seemed extremely remote for much of the past year, but now things are Golden in Gopherland.
The 6'9", 240-lb Hopkins star committed to Duke back in May of 2002 and signed a letter of intent with them last November. Kris asked for and was granted his release from that LOI a month ago though, and he reopened his recruitment. Indiana, Iowa State, and Minnesota made the final three, and Kris visited each school.
Where he would wind up and when he would make a decision were both big question marks until today. That's when Kris signed an intent to enroll form and a scholarship voucher with the University of Minnesota. So now the Gophers' frustrating spring recruiting period, which left them unable to land a junior college power forward to fill the void left by Jerry Holman and Rick Rickert, is suddenly a huge success.
Not only were they able to fill what was probably their number one need, but they were able to do it with one of the top 10 prospects in the country. So this Gopher team that had many doubters heading into next season will now be adding four top 100 recruits (including Adam Boone, Aliou Kane, and Wesley Washington) to a decent core of returning players. Consider the bar of expectations raised.
While you never know just how a freshman will adjust to the college game, and while you never want to depend on him too much, Kris is about as sure of a thing as you're going to find. He has very good size, great strength, good athleticism, polished fundamentals, a lot of experience under his belt, a good head on his shoulders, and about the best work ethic you're ever going to see. Kris won't be expected to carry the scoring load for the Gophers like Rickert was as a freshman, but he will be given the opportunity to be a major option in addition to being a solid defender and perhaps the team's leading rebounder.
Of course we do have to keep in mind two uncertainties. First, despite the documents he signed today, Kris is not bound to attending the U. He could change his mind and be free to head elsewhere anytime before the start of fall classes. Kris took his time in making this decision though, so I don't expect him to have any second thoughts. That makes this a non-issue as far as I'm concerned.
The second uncertainty still is an issue. That's the fact that Kris has to win an appeal to the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee in order to be eligible to play this coming season. If the appeal is denied, he would be free to practice with the team but unable to play in a game until the 2004-2005 season. It's difficult to know how this appeal will turn out, but people seem to be cautiously optimistic. We'll hopefully have an answer within a month.
Even is Kris is unable to play this coming season, today was still a very big day for the Gophers. Rather than striking out in the Minnesota class of 2003, they now suddenly have a pretty good track record with top local players (including the commitments they already have for 2004). And just as it was with Rickert two years ago, there will be a little more excitement about the team, a few more bodies in the stands, and a few more mentions nationally.
That's what a McDonald's All-American will do for you.
Here are links to GopherHole.com's previous articles on Kris Humphries dating back to his sophomore year: