The Gopher Basketball team got a big boost on Monday when Kris Humphries was ruled immediately eligible to play for Minnesota in the 2003-04 season. Humphries, the 6'8", 240-lb McDonald's All-American forward from Hopkins High School, signed a letter of intent with Duke last November before changing his mind this spring and deciding to attend Minnesota.
A player in that situation could potentially have to sit out two seasons before playing at his new school, but Duke granted Kris a "qualified release", which reduced the standard waiting period to one year.
After announcing his decision to attend Minnesota though, Kris made an appeal to the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee for immediate eligibility based on special circumstances. That appeal is what was granted on Monday.
So it's all settled. Kris Humphries will indeed be wearing Maroon and Gold this season, and the Gophers have immediately gained a little more credibility around the country, a little more respect within the Big 10, and a little more buzz from their fans.
While Kris is a very talented offensive player (to the tune of 25 points per game last season) who will be looked upon to do some scoring as a true freshman, the biggest thing he can bring to the Gophers is the physical presence and rebounding ability they lacked at times last season. Kris has the strength to match any power forward in the conference, and he should be able to outmuscle pretty much any small forward who gets matched up against him inside.
Beyond the obvious plus of adding a Top 10-caliber recruit, the addition of Humphries provides several other benefits as well. Coach Monson will now have the opportunity to alternate between several small and big lineups as match-ups dictate while always having a good collection of strength, shooting touch, and rebounding ability on the floor. He'll be able to bring along Aliou Kane at his own pace in his redshirt freshman season. He'll have more flexibility to use Stan Gaines in the appropriate situations to help accelerate his development as a sophomore. And he'll have the opportunity to redshirt incoming freshman Kerry Woolridge if desired.
All in all, it was a good day to be a Gopher Basketball fan. With Adam Boone, Humphries, Kane, Wesley Washington, and Woolridge all joining the team this fall, it's shaping up to be a good season for Gopher fans as well.