The independent news organization of Duke University

Humphries abandons Duke hoops

Kris Humphries, a 6-foot-8 McDonald's All-American from Minnesota, was granted his release from his National Letter of Intent to play basketball for Duke Monday afternoon.

As of Wednesday evening, the reasons behind Humphries' requested release were still unclear.

"I really don't know why Kris has asked for his release," Humphries' high school head coach Ken Novak wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. "He seemed to love everything about Duke.... I'm sure Kris will clarify things at a later date."

For now, however, the Hopkins High School star has left the world of college basketball guessing. Speculation has abounded regarding where Humphries will attend school in the fall, with the top three schools predicted as the University of Minnesota, Kansas University and Indiana University.

Indeed, a feeding frenzy has already begun for Humphries by all schools with scholarships still available. Dale Stahl, Humphries' assistant coach in high school, told the Herald-Sun of Durham that he had received calls from 12 schools since the release was announced. Among the schools that had called were Minnesota and Indiana.

Kris and his father, William, did not return phone calls from the Chronicle Tuesday or Wednesday.

Additionally, NCAA rules prohibit any member of the Duke coaching staff to comment on Humphries or the situation. The only action Duke has taken was the distribution of a press release, stating simply that Humphries had been released from his National Letter of Intent.

Though such a scenario is rare at Duke, the Blue Devil's basketball program has retained its respectability despite the incident.

"It's very good of Duke to give him his release," said basketball recruiting guru Seth Davis. "A lot of schools would not do that. I mean, give me a break, it's May. Duke can't fill that spot. He didn't just make a commitment to Duke, Duke made a commitment to him."

The loss of Humphries puts a significant damper on Duke's recruiting class, as the power forward was one of just two incoming scholarship players for the Blue Devils in 2003. A 230-pounder, Humphries is one of the top-10 recruits in 2003, as he averaged 25.5 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, five steals and 2.5 blocks per game his senior season.

Duke's lone scholarship freshman in 2003-04 then will be Luol Deng of the Blair Academy in New Jersey. He is ranked as the top high school player enrolling in college in the fall.

Minnesota and Kansas were Humphries' other top choices before making a verbal commitment to Duke in July of 2002. The Golden Gophers may be particularly attractive now, however, for three reasons: it is his father's alma mater; three scholarships are still availalble; and forward Rick Rickert, Minnesota's top returning player for 2003-04, recently decided to leave school for the NBA. Rickert's absence creates a significant offensive need for the Golden Gophers, one that Humphries could potentially fill.

A statement from Kris' father William, who played football for Minnesota, further hints that the hometown school may be the current front-runner.

"Kris wants the opportunity to play closer to home," he told the Pioneer Press Tuesday.

However, Kris' father was less specific in a phone interview with the Herald-Sun Tuesday.

"There's nothing going on right now-it's early," he said. "We're taking it one day at a time. I'm actually trying to corner Kris to figure out what the next step is. I just don't know."

Novak also said that he was unsure of any plans Humphries had for his next school.

When Humphries does choose a new school, he may not even be eligible to play during his freshman year, regardless of the college he chooses to ultimately attend because of National Letter of Intent regulations - Humphries will have to sit out at least one year unless he applies for and wins an appeal to the Collegiate Commissioners Association.


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