Michael Humphrey

Italy trip comes at good time for young Stanford team

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Stanford’s second Postseason NIT title in four season this past spring also marked the end of an era in Palo Alto. Seniors Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic all played their final game in a Stanford uniform that March night in New York City, meaning that Johnny Dawkins has some large holes to fill within his 2015-16 rotation.

With that being the case, it’s probably a good thing that the Cardinal can take an overseas trip this summer. The NCAA allows teams to do so once every four years, and with Stanford’s most recent trip coming in 2011 they’ll be hitting the road next month. Stanford’s headed to Italy, where they’ll play six games against Italian pro teams (two play in Lega Basket Serie A, and two others play in Serie A2) between August 25 and September 2.

Prior to leaving the country they’ll spend some time sightseeing and practicing in Washington, D.C.

“Our foreign tour to Italy will be an amazing cultural and team-building experience,” Dawkins said in the release. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the art and culture of ancient Rome, Florence and Venice. This will help us improve on the court as we get the chance to compete against other teams, in addition to off the court, as we strengthen our bonds as friends and teammates.”

Those exhibitions should be valuable for a team looking to determine primary scoring options after losing their top three scorers to the professional ranks. Among the players who will be asked to contribute more are redshirt junior forward Rosco Allen (7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg), junior guard Marcus Allen (6.4, 3.5) and sophomores Michael Humphrey, Reid Travis and Robert Cartwright.

The group that will now be sophomores, which includes shooting guard Dorian Pickens, will figure more prominently in the Stanford attack than they did last season with Travis and Humphrey (who both missed time last season due to injury) being the most likely breakout candidates. Add in a three-member recruiting class led by four-star center Josh Sharma, and Stanford won’t lack for young talent.

The question is which player(s) emerge as leaders for this group, and that’s something that can be determined during Stanford’s trip to Italy.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 25 Stanford Cardinal

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2014-2015 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day. Today, we start off our Top 25 countdown with the No. 25 Stanford Cardinal.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

source: Getty Images
Johnny Dawkins and Chasson Randle, Getty Images

Last Season: 23-13, 10-8 Pac-12 (t-3rd), lost in the Sweet 16

Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins

Key Losses: Dwight Powell (14.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg), Josh Huestis (11.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg)

Newcomers: Reid Travis, Michael Humphrey, Robert Cartwright, Dorian Pickens

Projected Lineup

G: Chasson Randle, Sr.
G: Anthony Brown, Sr.
– F: Rosco Allen, So.
– F: Reid Travis, Fr.
– C: Stefan Nastic, Sr.
– Bench: Grant Verhoeven, Jr.; Marcus Allen, So.; Malcolm Allen, So.; Robert Cartwright, Fr.; Michael Humphrey, Fr.; Christian Sanders, So.

They’ll be good because …: Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown will give the Cardinal one of the best back courts in the country. Randle is a supremely underrated lead guard, a big-time scorer that will have to take on more of a playmaking role this season. Brown is a 6-foot-6 marksman that has a reputation for being one of the better perimeter defenders out west.

The combination of Randle and Brown will be the anchor for Stanford as they try to repeat last season’s run to the Sweet 16, but there will be a solid supporting cast around them as well. Stefan Nastic isn’t anything special, but he’s a fifth-year senior and a capable low-post scorer that stands 6-foot-11. He’s not going to be intimidated by anyone he goes up against in league play. He’ll be joined up front by talented freshmen Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey, redshirt sophomore Rosco Allen and junior Grant Verhoeven. Travis, an undersized power forward that is a monster on the glass, should step into the starting lineup from day one and replace the production provided by Josh Huestis last season.

The back court is not as deep, but freshman Robert Cartwright should provide minutes at to spell Randle and give him a chance to play off the ball as well. There’s a chance that Cartwright could end up taking over the starting point guard role by the end of the season. Sophomore twins Marcus and Malcolm Allen will both be available as well, and Dorian Pickens should be able to provide a scoring pop when he sees the floor. The x-factor will be Christian Sanders, who started four times as a freshman in 2012-2013 but is coming off of an injury that kept him out all of last season.

source:
Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown, AP Photo

But they might disappoint because …: We know how good Randle and Brown are, but beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. That’s not to say Dawkins hasn’t accumulated talent — he has recruited well — it’s just that the supporting cast he has on his roster is quite unproven.

Nastic is solid, but he was the third option in Stanford’s front court last year, behind Dwight Powell and Huestis. Freshmen Travis, Humphrey and Cartwright are all four-star recruits, but it is hard to know just how effective freshmen are going to be in their first season on campus. Rosco Allen was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and started seven games as a freshman in 2012-2013, but he missed all of last season with an injury. Verhoeven and the Allen twins have never played major roles.

Outlook: The irony of last season’s run to the Sweet 16 is that before the season — and even entering the NCAA tournament, to a certain extent — there was a concern that Johnny Dawkins’ job could be on the line if he wasn’t able to make some noise. Last year was the most talented team that he has had in his tenure, and the Cardinal only managed a 10 seed in the dance.

While his job is no longer in jeopardy, it doesn’t change the fact that Dawkins has had a number of teams that have, for one reason or another, under-performed. On paper, the Cardinal look like a top five team in the Pac-12, but games aren’t played on paper. Are we pinning too much expectation on one weekend where Stanford played well last March? Maybe, but we’re willing to risk it knowing how good Randle is and assuming that Travis, as well as Cartwright and Humphrey, will be able to make major contributions immediately.

Stanford lands a commitment from top 75 big man Michael Humphrey

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Stanford made another quality front court pick up on Wednesday evening as the Cardinal landed a commitment from Michael Humphrey.

Humphrey is a lanky, 6-foot-10 forward from Arizona that currently is ranked 74th by Rivals in the Class of 2014.

Eric Bossi’s scouting report on him: “Thin big man is very mobile and is improving rapidly. Not overly physical but he will rebound and he can definitely stick a jump shot. Runs the floor well, passes well out of double teams and seems to add to his game each time out. Needs more strength and experience against high end players.”

Johnny Dawkins will need to replace Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, who graduate after this season, but that doesn’t mean that Humphrey will immediately be stepping into minutes in Palo Alto. Sophomores Grant Verhoeven and Rosco Allen and freshman Schuyler Rimmer are already on the roster.