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Humphrey ready for last home game with Lady Bulldogs

POSTED: March 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

If her last final home game is any indication, tonight’s should be a doozy.

It was Feb. 8, 2004 and a white headband-clad Tasha Humphrey led her then Class AAA No. 1-ranked Lady Red Elephants to a 63-54 win over Class AA No. 4-ranked Holy Innocents.

The 2004 win was Gainesville’s fourth straight over a ranked team and with her 22-point total, then Parade All-American Humphrey, surpassed the 2,500-point mark for her career.

After the game, Gainesville coach Manson Hill had this to say about his senior star, "She’s averaged over 20 points per game for four years. I’ve never seen a player that good in this area of the state."

Tonight, Kodak All-American Humphrey will play in her final game at Stegeman Coliseum for the No. 22-ranked Lady Bulldogs and while the competition will be a bit stiffer than Class AA’s Holy Innocents -- Georgia plays host to Candace Parker and No. 3 Tennessee -- from a coaches’ perspective the emotions evoked are much the same.

"It will be a bittersweet experience," Humphrey said. "These four years have been great."

"Now that we’re nearing the end of four years," Georgia coach Andy Landers said, "she’s established herself as being in the upper echelon of players that have played here.

"Her legacy is solid and it will stand forever. There is no piece she hasn’t accomplished and she is one of the best players we have had here."

Making of a legend

Andre Agassi once made the comment that his baby would beat Pete Sampras’ baby because, "I just think genetics are in my favor."

Family legacies place young men and women in fraternities and sororities, nudge the children of lawyers, doctors, teachers and coaches to do the same as their parents and, in the case of Humphrey, make for a nearly impossible act to follow.

Humphrey’s mother, Brenda Hill, was a star at East Hall High helping to lead the Lady Vikings, as a freshman, to the Class AA state title. As a senior for the Lady Vikings, Hill led her team to a 23-3 finish while averaging 26.8 points and 13 rebounds.

After high school, she took her game to Auburn where she was a three-year starter for the Lady Tigers and still ranks among Auburn’s career leaders in points (1,222), rebounds (604), blocked shots (126), field goal attempts (1,124), career scoring average (13.3) and field goals made (507).

After college, Hill played professionally overseas, completing her career with Como in Italy in 1991.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Humphrey finished her high school career having tallied 2,663 points and 1,228 rebounds. She led Gainesville to three state titles and was named miss Georgia Basketball in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

She was Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004, a McDonald’s All-American, and three-time Parade All-American.

In her four years as a starter for Gainesville she averaged 21.85 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

"My mom and coach (Manson) Hill pounded it in me to work hard but be humble," Humphrey said. "Tomorrow isn’t promised so you should take every opportunity."

The ultimate skill set

Georgia coach Andy Landers knew Humphrey was good coming out of high school, she had the stats to back it up.

Who knew, however, that Humphrey would be considered, entering her final home game for the Lady Bulldogs, one of the best to ever play at Georgia.

"Tasha’s (Humphrey’s) basketball IQ is phenomenal," Landers said. "She has an understanding of how the game is supposed to be played and she has the ability to see it from a long way off.

"She knows where I’m going and why I’m going there."

Humphrey is currently among the Lady Bulldog career leaders in points, rebounds, field goals made, blocked shots, free throws made and free throws attempted.

She is also in an elite sorority with former players such as Janet Harris, Teresa Edwards, Katrina McClain, Saudia Roundtree and Kelly Miller for having been named a Kodak All-American in each of her first three years at Georgia.

"There are not a lot of six-foot-three-inch players with her skill set," Landers said. "If I were a guard I’d love to play with her because if you pass it to her she is going to cash it in or pass it back to someone to cash it in.

"She commands so much attention and her teammates love that because it gives them easy opportunities to score."

"It’s easy to excel when game in and game out you are playing in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) against the best," Humphrey said. "It’s hard to get left behind especially if you are willing to work hard on and off the court."

Sweet home Atlanta?

Regardless of what happens tonight in her final home game, in the SEC tournament or the national tournament Humphrey will be a top draft pick in the 2008 WNBA draft.

"I would like to play in Atlanta," Humphrey said. "I grew up in Georgia and it’s just a good fit."

Atlanta has the eighth pick in the draft.

"Being paid to do something you love is great," Humphrey said. "It’s something special and will be a dream come true."

Humphrey’s current coach is confident that where she will suceed wherever she ends up, "If Tasha (Humphrey) gets with the right players, she’s going to do great things."

Having conquered the high school and college ranks, there’s little doubt she will.



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