Isaac Humphries to turn pro, sign with agent

Sophomore forward Isaac Humphries played the best game of his career in Kentucky’s Elite Eight loss to North Carolina and nearly lifted the Wildcats to the Final Four this season. Now he’ll work to continue that strong play at the next level.

Humphries announced Wednesday that he will pursue his options professionally in the NBA and internationally. The 7-footer from Sydney, Australia, plans to sign with an agent, effectively ending his UK career.

Kentucky sophomore forward Isaac Humphries announced Wednesday that he will pursue his options professionally and sign with an agent. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

Kentucky sophomore forward Isaac Humphries announced Wednesday that he will pursue his options professionally and sign with an agent. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

“First and foremost, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for its unwavering support,” Humphries said. “Coming from Australia, I had no idea what to expect when I got to Kentucky, but you made me one of your own. Your support and passion over the last two years has been unbelievable. I can’t thank you enough for making me feel at home.

“This decision didn’t come easily for me. My goal has always been to play professionally. There is no better place to prepare you to take that step than the University of Kentucky. Over the last two years, thanks to Coach Cal and the coaching staff, I’ve gotten so much better and improved my game. I believe I have a lot more I can do, but I also believe that the time for me to take the next step is now.

“At the end of the day I have to do what I believe is best for myself and my family. 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. But, because of what I’ve learned at Kentucky and the support I have from my family and this school, I also feel like I’m ready to face those challenges and that I’m prepared for whatever is next and wherever that may take me.

“It’s going to be difficult not playing at Kentucky next season and I’m going to miss everything that comes with being a Wildcat. I’ll miss my brothers. The friends I have made here and the relationships I have formed will last a lifetime. During such a developing time of my life, it was a true blessing to be surrounded by such incredible people, fans, and teammates who were always looking out for me and always had my back.”

Players have until 11:59 p.m. ET on April 23 to submit their names for the 2017 NBA Draft. This year’s draft is set for June 22.

Humphries averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game last season. He played in all 38 games as a sophomore, including one start, and shot 51.1 percent from the floor.

Humphries played the best game of his UK career during the Wildcats' Elite Eight loss to UNC, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

Humphries played the best game of his UK career during the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to UNC, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

The best game of Humphries’ career came against eventual national champion North Carolina and its formidable frontline. Humphries came off the bench to play a season-high 21 minutes. He scored a career-high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, grabbed five rebounds, including two offensive boards, and had one assist and one steal.

“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” head coach John Calipari 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. You’re talking about a 7-footer who can shoot and can rebound. That has value anywhere in the world. He’s also just 19 years old, the youngest sophomore in the country this past season. Everyone forgets how young he is and how much he’s going to continue to grow and develop. He’s only going to get better and better. My belief is what you saw at the end of this season is just the beginning of his pro career.”

Humphries opened his sophomore campaign with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals in 19 minutes against Stephen F. Austin. Four games later, Humphries scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, including five offensive boards, against Cleveland State. As a freshman, Humphries scored six points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds at Texas A&M.

Humphries is the fifth Wildcat to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft, and joins Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk as the fourth UK player to announce his intention to declare for the draft and sign with an agent. Freshman forward Bam Adebayo announced April 5 that he will enter his name in the draft but will not hire an agent at this time, allowing him the possibility to return for a sophomore season.

The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 9-14 in Chicago.

UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over the first seven years of the Coach Cal era, which is more than double any other school. Included in those 28 draft picks are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, 11 top-10 selections and 14 lottery picks.