- Adam Finkelstein
Stanford earned an important commitment Wednesday night, adding 6-foot-10 Michael Humphrey, who emerged as one of the West Coast’s biggest risers during the recent AAU and grassroots season.
Why he committed: Humphrey is an outstanding student, and academics played a big part in his recruitment throughout the process. Ultimately, it proved to be one of the deciding factors as he picked Stanford over Arizona, having previously eliminated UCLA, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame from his final five. The opportunity for an immediate opportunity also played a role, as there’s little doubt he’ll challenge for consistent rotation minutes as a freshman.
What he brings: He’s a late-blooming big man who hadn’t made a name for himself before this spring. He sprouted up physically during his junior year and is consequently still growing into his body, and potentially still growing period. He already has good mobility and agility for a player his size, along with an excellent motor. His most immediate contributions will be on the defensive end, where his feet and timing will allow him to be valuable blocking shots and defending pick-and-rolls.
Offensively, he’s still a work in progress, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. He has a good touch that he can use with a short faceup game from the midpost or even stretch to the arc on occasion. Considering the fact he’s still evolving physically and hasn’t even been a full-time basketball player yet, this could end up being a pivotal commitment for the Cardinal.
How the class is shaping up: Quietly, Stanford is on the verge of a strong class. Humphrey joins combo guard Robert Cartwright to be Johnny Dawkins' second ESPN 100 pledge. If the Cardinal can come out on top of the Reid Travis sweepstakes, this would be about as good of a class as Stanford could have hoped for. The factor most forget about Stanford is the academic criteria of the school limits the applicant pool perhaps more than any other high-major program. So when you consider the commitments Stanford has relative to that pool, Dawkins and his staff are doing a terrific job in the 2014 class.
How he fits: With Dwight Powell, John Gage and Josh Huestis all set to graduate this year, and Andy Brown potentially running out of eligibility, Stanford will be losing a minimum of 75 minutes, 30 points and close to 20 rebounds a night along its front line. Stefan Nastic and Rosco Allen will both be counted on to solidify the front line next year, but after that, things are far less certain. Humphrey will have an opportunity to challenge for immediate minutes and gradually grow into more of a focal point up front.
Who he reminds us of: He has the potential to be a cross between guys like Taj Gibson and Raef LaFrentz. Like Gibson, Humphrey is a physically gifted “motor guy” who can affect the game in a variety of ways on defense but has to work to develop his offensive skills. He has a similar offensive upside to what LaFrentz had as a skilled inside-out big who was still a threat with his shot-blocking ability.