Georgia forward Tasha Humphrey.
WNBA.com spoke with the Georgia native about the new team in Atlanta, her taste in movies and why her mother is her role model out on the court.
Q: Oh my gosh, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to step on your shoes… But please, say hello to all of your fans on WNBA.com. We’re the good guys.
HUMPHREY: “Phew, I’m glad to hear you say you’re the good guys… especially after you go and step on my nice, clean, white shoes.”
Q: Yeah, sorry about that.
HUMPHREY: “No big deal. Just don’t let it happen again.”
Q: Got it. So you grew up in Georgia. What was the basketball atmosphere like where you grew up and went to school?
HUMPHREY: “I grew up in Gainesville, Georgia. It’s the chicken capital of the world. I thought you might need to know that (laughs). That’s probably the highlight of the town. Not many other towns can make that claim.
“Gainesville is really a big football and baseball town. The Georgia athletic director is from Gainesville and (St. Louis Cardinals pitcher) Chris Carpenter went to high school there, too. Oh, and Martrez Milner who played for the Falcons. But I’m the only one who’s gone on to do anything with basketball so far. Well, except for my mom, who was big back in the ‘70s or whatever… she was pretty good.
“Actually, she kind of got me into the game. I remember watching her play overseas in Brazil, Sweden, Italy… she traveled the world. So yeah, I guess she was pretty good. The thing I really remember about her playing was her hair… she had the whole Jheri curl thing going on.”
Q: So tell me what you’ve been up to since the end of your season at Georgia. You guys had a pretty good run. Losing in the second round to North Carolina wasn’t the way you wanted to end the season, but you had a pretty remarkable college career, wouldn’t you say?
HUMPHREY: “Yeah, it was a tough way to go out. But since then, I’ve been working out a lot. I’ve also been trying to get everything together in terms of my classes at school, because I know that once the draft comes, it’s gonna be a whirlwind. But I’ve really been trying to enjoy the time I have left with my friends and my family before the end of school and before the WNBA season whisks me away.”
Q: Have you been doing anything special to prepare for the Pre-Draft Camp? Do you feel like you’re in the kind of shape you need to be in at this point?
HUMPHREY: “Conditioning-wise? Not really. Once our long season was over, I took three or four days off which I think my body really needed. But since then, I’ve been in the gym as much as possible… two or three times a day. See, this is a whole new level and I think that you have to prepare yourself both physically and mentally as best you can to make sure that you excel.”
Q: What are the biggest strengths you feel you’ll bring to whichever WNBA team selects you?
HUMPHREY: “My versatility. I pride myself on being able to get it done both inside and outside. I’ve always felt that the more you can do as a basketball player, the more you can help your team out. And I want to be the best teammate I can be.”
Q: Where do you see yourself fitting in positionally in the pro game? Does it depend a lot on which team you go to? Or are you most comfortable as a four?
HUMPHREY: “Yeah, I think it will depend on where I go, but I’m really a four. And being able to take my game outside just opens up the floor for me that much more. I can take smaller posts down low on the block. And if I’m matched up against someone taller, I might be able to take them out on the perimeter.”
Q: Is there a team with which you think you’d fit in really well?
HUMPHREY: “At this point, I’m willing to mold my game to fit whatever the team that drafts me is looking for. I think I can do that, and it’s gonna be challenging… but it’ll also be fun and exciting.”
Q: So you’re at Georgia now. And you grew up in Georgia as well. Are you excited that the Atlanta Dream are coming to the WNBA?
HUMPHREY: “Oh my gosh, there’s been a huge buzz all over Georgia about it. Everyone is so excited. And playing both high school and college ball in Georgia, being able to continue playing there, either with the team or coming in a couple of times a year as a visiting player, would be really special for me and my fans, family and friends in the area.”
Q: Is there anyone in the WNBA who you model your game after? Is there someone who you watch play and say, “Wow, I’d like to be able to do a drop-step like she does…”?
HUMPHREY: “Tina Thompson, definitely. She’s the kind of post player I want to be. She can hurt you on the block, but she can also step out and hit the three on a consistent basis. Being a big who can also hit from outside changes the whole dynamic of her team and changes the other team’s defensive scheme. There aren’t a lot of posts who can step outside and hit consistently, but growing up and watching her play… she’s always been an inspiration to me. I’ve always wanted to work hard to elevate my game to a place even close to where hers is.
Q: Are you gonna go out there at the Pre-Draft Camp with your lipstick on?
HUMPHREY: “Haha, no, she can have that. That’s her thing. But I’ll come up with my own… maybe some high socks or a headband or something.”
Q: What do you think about your draft class as a whole? Who have you played against that really impressed you?
HUMPHREY: “Gosh, who HAVEN’T I played against? I played against Sylvia, I played against Candace, I played against (North Carolina's) Erlana (Larkins), I played against Alexis Hornbuckle, I played against everybody. I think there’s really something special about our class, and I guess it’s the depth. There are so many great players, there are so many talented athletes in this group.
“And with us playing in the SEC, we saw all kinds of terrific competition night in and night out. And that’s one of the cool things about the NCAA’s. You play teams you haven’t already played three times during the season.
“I think there are a lot of players who have the chance to be really exceptional pros, but there’s just something about Sylvia Fowles. She does something every game that really puts me in awe. She’s dominating right now… and once she actually gets it in her head that nobody can stop her? Wow… nobody’s gonna stop her! The athleticism she brings and the finesse she has around the basket… it’s so impressive. It’s not always fun to play against, believe me… haha. But when I’m watching, I’m gonna go sit and watch her play all day.”
Q: What would you categorize as your best ever on-court moment?
HUMPHREY: “Gosh, I don’t know. I hope it’s still to come! To be announced… TBA… how does that sound?”
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
HUMPHREY: “I always have to take my shower and take my nap after shootaround. Those are necessities. I’ll shut the whole place down, go home and pack it up if I don’t get to do that.”
Q: What’s your favorite way to relax off the court?
HUMPHREY: “I like video games. I’m pretty nice on the Wii. If any newcomers want to step to me, I’ll knock you down (laughs). OK, bowling, not so much. I can’t ever seem to get the timing down. I’ll get a strike every once in a while, but it’s almost continuous gutter balls. But tennis is good. My serve is money. I’m pretty good at baseball. I don’t quite get it how the legless and armless figures on the screen make catches and stuff, but I’m pretty good at it.”
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
HUMPHREY: “Well, to answer that, I’m gonna have to add an ‘s’ to that word. I have a ton of favorite movies. Love and Basketball… though I bet you get that answer from 80 percent of the players here. I like Scarface… I’m a big Al Pacino fan. I loved The Departed, too. Great movie. And basically anything with Denzel. I loved American Gangster. I was one of those crazy fans waiting at the movie store for it to be released on DVD on that Tuesday.
Q: What about music? Who are your favorite artists these days?
HUMPHREY: “Alicia Keys and Lil Wayne. I recently also bought Rick Ross' CD and that’s been on repeat for a couple of days now.”
Q: How about a favorite book?
HUMPHREY: “Well, I don’t get a chance to read as much as I’d like to… Unless you mean something like ESPN. Sure, SportsCenter’s a book, right? I guess I like more animated books, which is another way of saying TV.”
Q: What’s your source of inspiration when it comes to basketball?
HUMPHREY: “Just going out there and pushing myself to be the best person and the best player I can be. I look to my mother for my inspiration, though. She’s a single mom who did a lot and sacrificed a lot for my sister and me. And one day I want to be able to take her out shopping and tell her that she can buy whatever she wants and that she doesn’t have to worry about anything. That’s my ultimate goal.”
Q: What’s the best piece of advice anybody ever gave you?
HUMPHREY: “This also comes from my mom and it applies to everything, both basketball and life… Now don’t go trying to steal it or anything… I might have to copywrite this… But my mom always used to tell me not to let anyone outwork me. I think that’s something that has driven me both on and off the court.”