I'm sure many Gopher fans checked the calendar just to make sure it wasn't April 1st when they logged on to the message board on Monday and saw the rumors swirling. Then it became official: Duke has released Kris Humphries from the letter of intent he signed with the Blue Devils back in November. So the Humphries recruiting saga that monopolized Gopher Basketball recruiting talk for over a year may now very well be back in full swing.
First, a brief background for any of you who may have been in a coma or trapped in a cave for the past two years and don't know who Kris Humphries is. Kris is a 6'8"+, 230-lb+ forward from Hopkins High School who is the top prospect in Minnesota, was a McDonald's All-American, and is considered by many to be one of the top 10 recruits in the country. The Gophers offered him a scholarship late in his sophomore year and recruited him extremely heavily, but he ultimately chose Duke with Kansas reportedly coming in #2 ahead of Minnesota.
Rumors of a potential jump to the NBA straight out of high school began to circulate with some credibility this spring, but Kris was not on the final list of early entries who made themselves eligible for the draft last week. Monday's surprise news now raises a couple of very interesting questions.
First and foremost is where Kris will ultimately wind up next season. Minnesota and Indiana are the two schools being rumored the most at this point. The Gophers are an obvious candidate of course, as they have the hometown edge, family connections, and a long history all on their side. Indiana was never a serious player in Kris' original recruitment, but getting involved quickly may be the reason they're apparently in the running the second time around.
The other main uncertainty is whether Kris will even be allowed to play next season. Duke's "qualified release" still would require Kris to sit out a year before playing for another Division 1 school. There is the possibility of appealing to the NCAA for immediate eligibility, but it's uncertain how likely that appeal would be to be granted.
Humphries would certainly be a welcome addition to the Gophers and would go a long way towards helping to fill the void left by Jerry Holman and Rick Rickert inside. Kris already has the strength to bang with anybody in the Big 10, and he has the skill and athleticism to be a legitimate threat in transition and on the perimeter as well.
Adding a player of Kris' caliber at this late of a date and with an obvious frontcourt need would qualify as a coup of nearly unprecedented proportions and would immediately raise expectations for next year's Gopher team, assuming he would be eligible to play.
This one could be interesting (actually, it already is), so stay tuned.