Your first reaction to the news that Isaac Humphries is going pro was probably, “What?” followed by “Why?”. Last season, Isaac averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game, not quite NBA Draft prospect numbers, but the Australian has still decided to declare for the draft, sign with an agent, and see what happens, whether it be in the D-League or abroad. At first glance, this is a confusing call, but upon further reflection, it actually makes a lot of sense. Here’s why.
With Bam potentially staying and Bamba potentially on the way, the frontcourt is loaded
Even if Bam Adebayo decides to stay in the NBA Draft, next year’s roster will be heavy on big men. Between Nick Richards, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, and potentially Mohamed Bamba, Humphries probably felt like there weren’t going to be enough minutes to go around; that’s kind of a shame because Humphries brings a lot to the table in that he’s a big, solid kid who can rebound AND shoot a jumper consistently. But, would that be enough to get him minutes over the others when he averaged only eight per game this season?
If Kentucky misses on Bamba and Bam decides to stay in the draft, not having Humphries will sting a lot more, but in order to make his dream of playing professionally come true, he simply needs more playing time, and that probably wouldn’t have happened next season. Or, honestly, maybe even the season after that.
Just because he’s declaring for the NBA Draft doesn’t mean he expects to get drafted
I’ve seen a lot of people slamming Isaac’s decision to enter the NBA draft because there’s a slim chance that he’ll get drafted, but that’s not just what the draft process is about. Isaac will have a chance to get feedback from teams and even though we’re hearing that John Calipari and the staff really wanted Isaac to come back to school, you better believe Calipari will do his best to pitch his best assets to teams to help him find a spot in the D-League or abroad. In fact, Calipari said before the season ended that an Australian scout was at practice to watch him play. Just because he won’t get drafted here doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to use those resources before he moves back down under. Reading his statement, you can tell Isaac knows that.
“At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family,” Isaac said. “I know turning pro is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I understand that these next few weeks and months with the pre-draft process is going to take a lot of hard work and maybe some realistic truths.”
He’s coming off his best game
The fact that Isaac’s best game as a Cat was his last is cruel for those of us who wanted him to stay, but going out on a good note does help his stock a little bit. Isaac had a career-high 12 points on 5-8 shooting and five rebounds in 21 minutes vs. North Carolina, eight of those points coming during UK’s 10-2 run to take the lead with five minutes left. As Calipari said, that game proved that Isaac is just now coming into his own.
“My belief is what you saw at the end of this season is just the beginning of his pro career,” Cal said. “Isaac has gotten so much better in his two seasons here and I believe he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his true potential. I absolutely understand and fully support his decision and I will do whatever I can to help his dreams come true.”
He’ll find a home at home
The most likely scenario for Humphries is signing with a team in his native Australia, especially since we know Aussie pro scouts have been watching him this year in practice. In reading his and Cal’s quotes, it sounds like that’s a decision Isaac and his family prepared for, and one that may be necessary.
“This decision didn’t come easily for me,” Isaac said. “My goal has always been to play professionally…At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family.”
“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” Calipari said. “You’re talking about a 7-footer who can shoot and can rebound. That has value anywhere in the world.”
If all else fails, he’s got singing
From Kyle Tucker’s profile of Isaac in January 2016:
I’d buy his record.