Books & Basketball
For the first 21 years of junior Lee Humphrey’s life, he never had a stamp in his passport. Although the Maryville, Tenn., native has traveled throughout the United States as a member of the Florida men’s basketball team, it was a delicate balance of athletics and academics that has propelled him to new heights.
As one of the elder players on a young team majoring in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Humphrey fulfills his role by setting the academic standard for the rest of his teammates to follow. Humphrey achieved this by earning Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American and was named the Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year this season.
“It was nice to be recognized for my basketball skills as well as my academics,” Humphrey said.
Since basketball runs through both the fall and spring semesters, Humphrey is often faced with the challenge of balancing both his sport and his studies.
“It’s tough, especially this time of year (NCAA Tournament time) with everything going on right now,” he said. “I try to stay on top of my work by getting it done early and make sure I don’t fall behind in my classes. My goal is to go into each class and get an A.”
Humphrey’s work ethic can be attributed to his upbringing in a family of educators who instilled a sense of priority in him.
“My parents always made me do my homework first before anything else,” he said. “My dad is a teacher and my mother works for the (local) school, so they always stressed the importance of academics. They are probably more proud of the academic awards I have received this year than us being in the Final Four. They think it’s important to be a good student as well as a good basketball player.”
Being good at both certainly has its advantages. Last summer, Humphrey was selected as one of eight players to participate on the Sports Reach SEC All-Stars team that traveled to China. The team played seven games against semi-professional teams, but more importantly got exposure to a different culture.
“That was a great trip,” Humphrey said. “It was my first time out of the country and we were in eight different cities, so we got to see a lot of China.
“The people over there were really great; it was fun interacting with them. We had good crowds everywhere we went and people were cheering for us. They just wanted to see good basketball.”
Humphrey will again experience something for the first time when Florida plays in front of 44,000 people at the Final Four in Indianapolis. While shooting 3-pointers may have gained him national fame – this year he set the Gator single season record for 3-pointers as he became the first Gator to reach triple digits in a single season and has 103 entering the Final Four – he continues to credit the University for helping to open new doors for him to explore.
“Going to college in Florida has been great for me,” Humphrey said. “Getting exposed to different types of people and interacting with the team has been great. I probably would not have had the opportunity to go to China. I have gotten to take some fascinating classes along the way and have learned so much.”
- Photo credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography