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Humphries hires agent, so no turning back

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kris Humphries' only season at Minnesota was
an individual success, yet a trying one for the team.

Now the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year is turning pro, leaving
the Gophers to continue their rehabilitation.

Humphries announced Thursday he will leave school and enter the
NBA draft.

"It feels like it's the right time for me," said Humphries,
who became the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in both scoring
and rebounding.

"It's tough to go," he said at a news conference at Williams
Arena, "but I feel like I made the right decision."

Humphries has signed with an agent, ending any chance that he could return next season. He signed with Dan Fegan,
who represents Ndudi Ebi of the Minnesota Timberwolves and other players, Humphries' father, William, said Saturday.

Time will tell, but Humphries -- a 6-foot-9 forward with a
powerful inside game -- appears more ready than Rick Rickert, who
left the Gophers after his sophomore season and was chosen by the
Timberwolves late in the second round last year.

It's difficult to forecast at this point where he will land in the draft, since there
are sure to be more underclassmen -- as well as high school and
international players -- in the mix. Only a handful of college
seniors are expected to go in the first round.

"I definitely think he's a top 20 or maybe a late lottery
pick," said Chris Monter, a Twin Cities-based draft expert who
publishes the Monter Draft News and is close to the Humphries
family.

"He's maybe not as tall as the prototypical power forward and
maybe he doesn't have the quickness of a small forward, but one
thing I like about him is he works hard," Monter said. "He needs
to work on putting the ball on the floor a little better and at
times being a little bit more unselfish, but he had an outstanding
season. For a freshman, that's incredible."

Humphries consulted with his parents, coach Dan Monson and
former NBA players Trent Tucker, Richard Coffey and Chris Carr. He
said he didn't make a final decision until Wednesday night.

In seeking information from NBA sources, Monson received
positive feedback.

"Everywhere he's gone, he's scored and he's rebounded," Monson
said. "A lot of teams can use that."

The Gophers' 12-18 season had no bearing on his departure,
Humphries said, nor did he have a preconceived idea of how long
he'd stay in college.

"I was going to stay until I was ready," he said.

Tucker, who played for the Gophers from 1979-82 and had an
11-year NBA career, is confident Humphries will succeed.

"For any rookie going into the league, it's a whole different
world," Tucker said. "I think the reason guys pick it up faster
than others is they listen. I told him, 'Just continue to work very
hard every day and listen and learn from the people that are in the
game. The more things you can pick up from veteran players, the
better off you're going to be."'

Monson sat next to Humphries at the news conference, just like
he did exactly one year ago in the same room when Rickert announced
his decision to leave.

"I'm excited for Kris," Monson said. "He's represented this
university with nothing but class through a difficult year for this
program.

Humphries averaged 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for
the Gophers, who tied Penn State for the worst record in the
conference at 3-13.

The program is finally off probation, five years after the
academic fraud scandal, but the Gophers will be thin inside next
season -- with Jeff Hagen the most experienced post player. Incoming
freshman Spencer Tollackson should be an immediate contributor.

"We've got holes to fill," Monson said. "We've got to
build."

Humphries is the third player to declare for the draft early
since Monson took over in 1999-2000. (Joel Przybilla was the
first.)

"That's the way it is for college coaches now," Monson said.
"You get good players and you can't sit there and say you're going
to have them for four years."