NBA Draft combine let former Notre Dame standout improve his status

On what would become the most important audition of his basketball life, former Notre Dame power forward Ryan Humphrey saw his world turn upside down.

Literally.

This week marks the next step toward the annual NBA draft with the combine at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. It was 20 years ago next month when Humphrey was one of 64 draft hopefuls trying to make a name for himself. In 2002, the event was held at Moody Bible Institute in the Old Town section of Chicago. A first team All-Big East selection his senior season after averaging 18.9 points and 10.9 rebounds, both team highs, Humphrey was an intriguing pro prospect, but someone who felt he had plenty to prove.

Despite all he’d done in two seasons at Notre Dame, despite being a McDonald’s All-American in high school, despite his scary athleticism, Humphrey carried a prove-it chip the size of his native Oklahoma each time he stepped on a basketball court . There, guys who were bigger than him and better than him often awaited.

When Humphrey arrived via yellow school bus at the Solheim Center for the first night of five-on-five scrimmages, his mindset remained the same – go dominate.

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