Given his lengthy NBA career and a coaching career that has kept him busy traveling the world over the 20-plus years since his playing days ended, Jay Humphries has had few opportunities to return to the University of Colorado.
That has changed of late.
Most prominently, the point guard who helped so many Buffaloes teammates net easy baskets during his playing days at the CU Events Center had his selflessness rewarded last fall with his induction into the CU athletics Hall of Fame. Now, for the second consecutive season, Humphries is serving as an assistant coach for Team Colorado as the group of CU basketball alums prepares for another run at the $2 million, winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament.
Scheduling conflicts prevented Humphries from attending last year's training camp weekend for Team Colorado, but he was back at the CU Events Center this past weekend helping head coach Dwight Thorne prepare the club for its July 14 tourney opener.
"It's tough for me. I'm normally working somewhere else during the basketball season," Humphries said. "I thought (coaching Team Colorado) would be good. I'm a Colorado guy. I wish I could play. If I can share some coaching experience and help them along, I'd love to do it.
"I played in the pros for years and I've been around a lot of pros. Guys from North Carolina, guys from Duke. Guys from all of these different schools who have a family, have camaraderie and they get together at golf tournaments. Or someone passes and it's a big thing. That was something we didn't previously have, the unity of the (CU) basketball program. What Tad (Boyle) has done has been great to be able to bring guys together. A lot of these guys I didn't get to see play much because I was overseas or I was coaching."
Humphries has coached in South Korea, China, the NBA, and the NBA D-League, and currently he trains professional Chinese basketball players privately near his home in Eugene, Oregon. More than 34 years after he last suited up for the Buffs, Humphries remains a fixture in the program's record books.
Humphries is the Buffs' all-time leader in assists with 562, and he owns two of the top four single-season assist marks in CU history with 174 in 1982-83 and 173 a year later. Those figures are even more impressive given CU didn't play more than 29 games in either of those years and generally plays at least 31 now and more if a postseason tournament is in play (CU hasn't played fewer than 30 games since the 2006-07 season).
Humphries' single-season assist averages of 6.2 and 6.0, respectively, in those two seasons are among the top four marks in CU history. Of course, one player who was able to top Humphries' two best single-season totals with a few additional games was McKinley Wright, who set a CU freshman record with 175 assists this past year. Humphries has played alongside and coached enough great players to realize the Buffs have a star in the making.
"He's going to be good," Humphries said. "He has a great foundation and had a great freshman year. But now people are going to know him a little bit. He's going to have to continue to improve. He's going to have to continue to grow his game and start to make players around him better. The foundation is there for him to be a great athlete at the university."