The student cheering section for Division II state champion Phoenix Sunnyslope’s volleyball team was a lively bunch, often dressed in crazy outfits.
There was one guy who stood out. He wore black oversized nerd glasses. Michael Humphrey also was noticeable because of his height – 6-feet-9.
“All of our teams need support,’’ he said.
Humphrey likes to have a good time. But he also knows when to be serious.
The senior was serious on the football field, throwing for 1,656 yards and 11 touchdowns as Sunnyslope went 10-0 during the regular season before falling in the first round of the playoffs.
And Humphrey is even more serious on the basketball floor.
He has developed into one of the state’s top players, averaging 15.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocked shots per game to help the Vikings win 14 of their first 15 games, through Tuesday (Jan. 7).
Humphrey’s career won’t end when he graduates. He will move on to play for Stanford, one of the most prestigious universities for athletics and academics.
Sunnyslope was to play host to Valley Vista on Wednesday night (Jan. 8) and will travel to Cerritos, Calif., for a game against Sacred Heart of Montebello, Calif., on Saturday (Jan. 11) at Cerritos Junior College.
Humphrey has made significant improvements in all aspects of his game, and that has allowed him to play at a higher level.
“I was always tall, but I wasn’t the tallest kid on the freshman team,’’ he recalled. “I was more of a constant grower, not all at one time like some kids,’’ said Humphrey, who now weighs 215 and hopes to add another 10 pounds of muscle through lifting weights before landing at Stanford this summer.
He played football all four years, three on the varsity, because it helped him build strength.
“I’m glad I played football. It was a lot of fun,’’ he said.
Humphrey also had thoughts of joining Sunnyslope’s outstanding baseball program this spring, but decided not to.
Becoming a more complete basketball player is his primary goal, although he admits he has a lot of work to do.
“I feel I have always been able to play outside as well as inside, but my shot needed improvement. I have worked a lot with that,’’ he said.
“I love the running game. Coach (Ray) Portela believes in conditioning and using the running game. That is one of our team strengths. I also like blocking shots. I have learned to control my body better, going straight up rather than into the opponent and drawing a foul, and keeping the ball in play instead of knocking it out of bounds. It doesn’t always work that way, but at least you try. And if you can’t block it, you can make them adjust and not get the shot they wanted.’’
Humphrey also will get individual help, working on his post moves, with one-on-one sessions with assistant coach Dan Mannix, the former long-time Sunnyslope coach (Portela was one of his players).
Hard work also has paid off in the classroom, there Humphrey draws As and Bs and takes advanced classes in Spanish and Calculus. The approach should serve him well when he goes to Stanford. He is leaning toward economics or perhaps broadcasting.
There had been some interest by colleges in Humphrey as an underclassman, but things really began to pick up last summer when he competed in the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, Calif. He was listed as one of the players “On the Rise,’’ along with Tempe Corona del Sol guard Casey Benson.
“Stanford started having more and more interest and kept in touch. I had always thought about going there, anyway,’’ Humphrey said. “I took my visit in September, when the football team played ASU, and I just fell in love with the campus.’’
He expects to have fun when he gets to Stanford, but he would like nothing better than to join his Sunnyslope teammates in celebrating a Division II state title.
Then he could put on those nerd glasses again and go crazy.