It’s official: U’s Humphries will go pro

Adam Fink

When Kris Humphries committed to Minnesota’s men’s basketball team last summer, many people around the program said it was only a matter of time before the power forward declared for the NBA draft.

On Thursday, that day arrived.

Humphries, surrounded by his parents, grandparents, basketball mentors and Gophers coaches, announced at Williams Arena that he will enter the upcoming NBA draft set for June 24 in New York.

The freshman will also hire an agent in the immediate future, which, per NCAA rules, will void his final three years of collegiate eligibility.

“It feels like it’s the right time for me,” Humphries said in a prepared statement. “I do so with no regrets but with sadness for leaving the University of Minnesota and the people here.

“(My plan was) I was going to stay until I was ready,” he said.

Humphries’ draft stock has varied over the last two months. His individual team workouts will likely determine his exact position. In addition, his status will be affected by the number of high school and overseas prospects who enter the draft.

Numerous Web sites dedicated to following the NBA draft indicate he will be a midfirst round pick.

The 19-year-old became the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in scoring (21.7 points per game) and rebounding (10.1). However, Minnesota struggled to a 12-18 record.

Humphries hasn’t determined where he will train – though the IMG training complex in Florida is a leading candidate – prior to the months leading up to the draft.

Last season, sophomore Rick Rickert left school after the Gophers season concluded to train at IMG.

“When you get good players, you can’t sit there and say you are going to have them for four years,” Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. “He has represented the University with nothing but class through a difficult year.”

Trent Tucker, who has worked with Humphries for the last three years and is a former Gophers and NBA player, said he is impressed with how Humphries has continued to score and rebound despite the better competition in college.

But he said Humphries still has a ways to go, especially on defense.

“It got better (as the season went on),” Tucker said. “It’s much more difficult guarding a guy at the next level. I think his coaches are going to stress that to him, and he will get better.”

As a midfirst round NBA pick, Humphries would receive a guaranteed three-year contract worth between $3 million and $4 million.

The loss of Humphries is the Gophers’ third early departure for the NBA draft in the Monson era.

Last season, Rickert left with two years of eligibility remaining and now plays in Europe. In 2000, Joel Przybilla quit the team halfway through his sophomore season. He now plays for the Atlanta Hawks.