Scout/Jeff Drummond

Isaac Humphries leaving Kentucky Wildcats to pursue professional career

Sophomore center coming off memorable performance in final game at UK.

Isaac Humphries added his name to the growing list of Kentucky underclassmen who plan to explore their professional options this spring.

The sophomore center on Wednesday announced his intention to hire an agent to help him pursue his dream of playing in the NBA or internationally. 

The 7-footer from Sydney, Australia, is coming off the best game of his career with the Wildcats, a 12-point effort against North Carolina in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. 

“First and foremost, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for its unwavering support,” Humphries said in a statement released by UK. “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."

Humphries joins teammates Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in declaring for the draft. All with the exception of Adebayo plan to hire an agent, which would effectively end their UK careers. Adeabyo will have the option to return if he withdraws by the May 24 deadline.

“This was a difficult decision for Isaac but one that he and his mom put a lot of thought into,” UK 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 played a key role off the bench in each of Kentucky’s last two SEC regular-season and tournament championships. Humphries averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor during his sophomore season.

Calipari is now faced with replacing at least eight players from his 2016-17 squad. The Cats currently have six commitments for 2017, plus early enrollee Hamidou Diallo in what will likely be the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. They are still pursuing five-star prospects Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox, as well as Pitt transfer Cam Johnson and Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith.

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