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Humphrey a find for UGA, Felton

A friend of mine who happens to be a big Georgia fan posed the question to me a week or so ago, but I'm sure his thoughts were shared by many in Bulldog nation.

Now that he lives in Minnesota, my buddy tracks his favorite men's basketball team over the Internet. The more he read about Georgia basketball, the more he saw Billy Humphrey's name pop up.

So he asks me, "Was I watching the wrong Gwinnett guard last year?"

He may have been.

While Georgia fans tracked the every move of South Gwinnett stars Louis Williams and Mike Mercer and prayed that Williams wouldn't jump to the NBA (the prayers apparently didn't help), Humphrey was quietly getting it done over at Dacula. Although it didn't take long for Humphrey to get attention with a bevy of big games (a 59-point effort vs. South Forsyth sticks in my mind), he still was under many Georgia fans' radars because of the South duo, mainly Williams.

Williams is in the NBA and Mercer is doing very well at Georgia, but the one making the biggest impact for his team is Humphrey, who unlike the South guards was a late signee and wasn't recruited heavily by the Bulldogs until his senior season.

His impressive debut has shocked many fans, but others knew what to expect.

"I knew (Humphrey) would do well," said Georgia guard Channing Toney, a Brookwood grad. "I don't know if anybody else did. Just the way he practices and the way he does extra work before and after practice, you could tell he was going to do well."

Perhaps what has surprised many people, maybe even Georgia coach Dennis Felton, is how quickly Humphrey's all-around game has made an impact for the 7-1 Bulldogs. The 6-foot-2 guard is a big-time shooter - he leads the team in 3-point shooting, making 17 of 34 - but that's not all he is.

His fundamentals are strong. In 24.4 minutes this season he has 20 assists (second on the team) and just seven turnovers. He also leads the team in both scoring (13.8) and rebounding (4.9).

Justin Grant, Humphrey's high school coach, knows those all-around skills well. He's quick to point out that in the 59-point game vs. South Forsyth, his star guard also had 13 rebounds and nine assists, just a few missed layups away from a triple-double.

"Billy's very skilled and he's a great shooter," Grant said. "But he's got the whole package. He's got great court vision, great passing ability and is a great ball handler."

It all adds up to Humphrey being the new favorite Bulldog for a lot of fans. They might not have been watching closely last season, but they are now.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on

Thursdays.