Fever Q&A With Jennifer Humphrey
Former Kentucky Wildcat Jennifer Humphrey is in her second Fever training camp after averaging 4.3 points per game in three preseason games with Indiana last year. She was the only player in Poland’s PLKK to average a double-double this past season as she led the league with a 10.6 rebounds per game average.
Humphrey was one of 100 girls in the nation nominated to play in the inaugural girl’s McDonald’s All-American game while playing at Ridgewood High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Six games into her sophomore year at Kentucky, Humphrey was sidelined with achalasia, an illness that affects the esophagus, and had to undergo surgery.
FeverBasketball.com’s Josh Taylor asked Humphrey what she learned from her experiences in last year’s training camp and her stay in Poland.
FeverBasketball.com: You were here last year and played in all three preseason games, what mental aspects of your game developed from that experience?
Jennifer Humphrey: “Mentally, I am a little bit tougher than I was last year and I’m also a lot more confident. I know what to expect as far as the physicality of the game as well as tempo. Playing last year helped tremendously in those aspects.”
FB: Were there any Fever players you kept in touch with over the past year? If so, what impact did they have on you?
JH: “I talked to Alison [Bales], Kasha [Terry] and Ebony [Hoffman]. We didn’t talk so much about me being here in training camp because I didn’t find out until about a month ago that I was coming back, but when I left last year we kept in touch and they told me to keep my head up and that I was good enough to play in this league.”
FB: You played in Poland and were the only player to average a double-double in your league. How did your team end up doing?
JH: “We came in eighth and I was the only American. That’s all I have to say [laughing]. I don’t want to say anything bad.”
FB: How would you compare the styles of play between the WNBA and in Poland?
JH: “The WNBA is a lot more physical and up-tempo than the game is Poland. There are a lot of young players in Poland too. The players here are older so they have more experience, but the up-tempo style definitely helps my game because I love to run.”
FB: What was the biggest challenge about playing in Poland?
JH: “Being the only American really was my biggest challenge. That was my first time ever leaving the country or being away from home and by myself. That was a huge challenge along with the language difference and the food.”
“The coach was a challenge too since he didn’t speak English. He would have to tell one girl instructions and then that girl would tell me, but when you’re in the heat of the moment trying to get back onto the court after a timeout and then you have to ask a teammate who doesn’t speak English that well about what the coach said, it's a trying time. We didn’t have a translator, my teammates were the translators.”
FB: You led your team in scoring and you led the league in rebounding, but where do you think you need to improve?
JH: “I still need to improve my outside game. I need to improve my jump shot and my free throw shooting.”
FB: During your collegiate career with Kentucky you missed most of your sophomore year with an illness. Describe what that was like to not be able to play, but also what you learned in your time away from the game.
JH: “It was tough to watch my teammates play and have to be on the bench, but I learned a lot from just watching and observing the game. I was able to get physically stronger and after coming back from an illness like that, I had more mental toughness. It helped me tremendously because I came back a completely different person after my surgery.”
FB: You finished your career at Kentucky as only the second Wildcat with 800 points and 900 rebounds. Who do you attribute your success to?
JH: “Coach [Mickie] DeMoss, my head coach at Kentucky, was phenomenal. She was a huge part of my success. She pushed me everyday by knowing exactly how to coach me and when to push my buttons. I worked hard for her and it paid off.”
FB: What are the goals you’ve set for yourself this year?
JH: “I want to be a rebounder, or whatever role they want to put me in, I want to play to the fullest. I just want to do whatever I can to help my team win.”
FB: What are your goals for off the court?
JH: “During the season I want to stay healthy and stay focused. After the season, I have different goals. I don’t know if I want to go back over to Europe. I kind of want to coach too.”
FB: Would you go back to Poland?
JH: “No [laughing], I would not go back to Poland. I don’t know where I would go, but I would not go back to Poland.”