When scanning the roster in advance of last week's Reebok Breakout Classic, few high-major coaches' eyes froze on the name Michael Humphrey. After all, the slender big man from Phoenix had to that point failed to generate much excitement at home, so why would anyone expect him to attract national notice?
But by the end of camp those same coaches did more than notice: They launched full-scale pursuit.
It's never too surprising when a big man develops relatively late during his prep career. In fact, as recently as June at the Pangos All-American Camp, Humphrey was credible but hardly inspiring. Most of that performance disparity relates to his lack of exposure to high-major competition, but during the six weeks between Pangos and Reebok he clearly found his stride.
Humphrey looked comfortable from the get-go at Reebok. Though slender and needing a collegiate weight training program (he's 6-9, 205 pounds), he consistently establishes post position and seals defenders using educated footwork. He's right-handed but frequently finishes with his left, enabling him to score over longer, superior athletes.
And you can discern quickly that he's been coached. In addition to using sound footwork to establish position initially, he feels defenders on his back and already possesses a fluid jump hook. And again, he scores with either his right or left hand and from as far as six feet. Many big men require years before they legitimately add that shot to their arsenal, but Humphrey already possesses it.
He's also a reasonably effective jump shooter, though that's not the best aspect of his game. He does handle some, too, but he's better when within closer proximity to the basket. Those dimensions should develop over time, however.
In terms of limitations, speed and quickness loom as the primary issues. Humphrey will experience raw physical deficits versus some of the top post players, and Reebok — though good on the wings and strong overall — featured far fewer established high-major big men than you'd find on the Nike circuit. Thus, coaches who became sudden admirers last week will view him more critically during the remainder of the month.
Humphrey's first stop is this week in Dallas at the Great American Shootout, where he'll compete for the Arizona Magic. He'll then take his talents to Las Vegas for the Fab 48 during July's final live leg.
Because his recruitment is blossoming so profoundly, handicapping his favorites at this juncture makes little sense. The next step will be to observe which schools push for fall visits and, in return, which of those invitations Humphrey actually accepts.