Junior Spotlight: Kris Humphries

There may have never been a more perfect opportunity for Arizona to showcase itself to an elite-level junior prospect than during Saturday's UCLA comeback victory. That was exactly what happened when Minnesota combo forward Kris Humphries made the trip to Tucson over the weekend.

After the 2002-03 season concludes for Arizona, the Wildcats will lose both Ricky Anderson and Luke Walton to graduation. Both of those current players are what the coaches refer to as "four-threes" or "three-fours", which means that they are interchangeable at either forward spot. So with the inevitable departure of Luke and Ricky after next year, Arizona realizes that it must address a need at those positions from this current class of high school juniors.

That's where Kris Humphries comes in.

The Minnetonka (Hopkins), Minn. combo-forward is ranked among the nation's top 10 or 15 prospects and is strongly considering Arizona among his choices of possible colleges. He has already made unofficial visits to Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Texas and Iowa and made it out to Tucson for the UCLA game along with his parents.

Cat Tracks had a chance to catch up with the Humphries family in the middle of the euphoric Wildcat locker room immediately after Arizona completed one of the most riveting wins in school history; a 96-86 victory over rival UCLA.

But before we get into what was said in the locker room, let's go over just how good the kid from Minnetonka really is.

Humphries is 6-8, 220 pounds and has a scant three percent body fat. Just try to imagine a more muscular Luke Walton in terms of body type. In fact, it is Walton whose game Humphries' resembles most, but Humphries compares himself to another great all-around player: Duke's Grant Hill.

"(Hill) does a lot of things on the court," Humphries said. "He goes inside, goes outside and handles the ball."

Because of Humphries' versatility, he is averaging 26.6 points, 13 rebounds and four assists per game for his 12-2 team. Not bad when considering he started his athletic career off as a swimmer. In fact, he still holds five national records at the junior level of competition and has an older sister on a swimming scholarship at Texas.

"I just gave all that up for basketball," he says.

Basketball fans might remember the last player of this caliber to go from the pool to the court—Wake Forest legend Tim Duncan. Although their positions are different, make no mistake that Kris Humphries has just as much potential to make an impact at the college level.

So that you can get the full scope of Kris's personality, I will post the direct questions and answers during the interview below.

Cat Tracks: What are some of your thoughts on this environment here at Arizona?

Kris Humphries: "Oh it's crazy. They got a lot of fan support and it's something special, definitely. They've sold out for like ten years or whatever straight."

CT: What else do you want to absorb while you're here?

KH: "Just the environment, the people on the team—get to know them. See if it all works out."

CT: What is most important to you when making the decision of where you want to go to school?

KH: "Well I want to come in and play right away and definitely be a part of a winning team and have a chance to put myself in position to play at the next level."

CT: With the departures of three junior starters (at Arizona), two of which play your position, that's got to be a positive for you down the road.

KH: "Yeah definitely. I talked to the coaches and they said that there's definitely a spot for me here and that I'd see a lot of playing time."

CT: Do you play more inside or outside for your team right now?

KH: "A lot of times my guy will go inside and I'll defend him down there but I play just as well outside too."

Standing next to Kris was his mother, Deborah, and Cat Tracks also got her in on the interview while we had the chance.

CT: As the mom, it's got to be really important about where you're sending your kids off to school.

Mrs. Humphries: "I really want to know that he feels good about where he's going and about the academic situation. I think the main thing is that he looks at a variety of schools and really looks at the important things—the program, the support and how the players feel about the program and the coach."

CT: You've already had two daughters go off to school with one at Michigan State and one at Texas, how has that helped you prepare for Kris? (Note: Before reading on, please think of Lew Rickert and then get ready for the anti-Lew).

DH: "Because we don't put a lot of pressure on our kids (it's been easier). We give them our feedback and we really encourage them to examine the situation for themselves clearly and to decide based on what's best for them. We feel really good about that because then they head out the door and they feel more confident about their decision. We feel a lot better about that then if we would put a lot of pressure on them."

CT: It's got to be tough to have your kids go away from home and off to college especially when they go off to a place as far as Texas.

DH: "Oh sure it is. It's really tough, but I think that kids really have to grow up when they leave home. They have to make those tough decisions and the parents can't be right there for them in the moment they're struggling or whatever. So I see the benefit in them going away, but I have to be honest that I'd love to have them home too."

CT: What are you as a parent trying to take in from this trip?

DH: "Well it's just so that Kris can get a feel for the team and how the team's chemistry is and how he might fit in. Plus it was great to be a part of a game, that was huge!"

With what unfolded before the Humphries family's eyes at McKale Center on Saturday afternoon, one would have to think that Arizona could not have scripted a better situation as a recruiting tool for the courtship of Kris.

Fans know that the experience of being at that UCLA game will be something that stays with them for the rest of their lives. For Arizona, it is just hoping that the experience stays with Kris Humphries until right before the summer—which is when he wants to commit to a school.

For now, however, let's just say that an impression was made by both parties.

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