Shooting from Down Under

Photo by Victoria Graff | Contributing Photographer

Photo by Victoria Graff | Contributing Photographer

Isaac Humphries is a 7-foot freshman center for the University of Kentucky. The native of Sydney, Australia, is only 17 years old and won’t turn 18 until January 5, 2016. He played on the Australian U17 World Championship team that won a silver medal at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship. Humphries had a 41-point, 19-rebound game in a win over UK teammate Jamal Murray and Canada. Humphries reclassified to enter UK a year early. He will be joined by New Zealand native Tai Wynyard in December. Wynyard, a 6-foot-10 power forward, will be his roommate.

If someone had told you five years ago that in five years, you would be in Lexington, Kentucky playing basketball, what would you have said?
I would have said, ‘What is basketball?’ I don’t even think I was playing basketball at the time. I only started playing when I was 13.

Who are the basketball heroes in Australia?
Luc Longley and the current NBA guys. Luc kind of put a name for basketball out there because he did so well. It’s not on TV, so you can’t really watch it.

What is the biggest adjustment culturally?
Everything is different but similar at the same time. Yeah, the food is different; the landscape is different. The way we do things is different, but then again, it’s quite similar too. Adjusting to the culture wasn’t that difficult because we all speak English.

When did you come to the United States?
It was around December of last year.

How did the process happen for you to end up at Kentucky playing this season?
It was March of this year when I decided to go ahead with the reclassification. Then I kind of went through the normal recruiting process, and Kentucky came along. I had a visit and I liked it, so I committed.

When you arrived at UK and starting playing with these guys, did anyone impress you immediately?
It’s a very different situation where everyone is just so good. It’s really cool to have that because then I become better and everyone becomes better and I learn from everyone. There are just so many aspects that are positive about having so many good players everywhere.

What do you see as your role this season?
If I work really hard, which I will, I think I’ll make a solid impact.

How much does it help your confidence when you have success in practice against these talented guys?
That was a big part of my mental state. When I was thinking about Kentucky, I was like, ‘Oh I don’t know if I’m good of enough. I don’t know.’ Once I came here and I competed well when I played with them, it picked my confidence up. Now I know personally that when I go in to train, I can compete.

Do you know Tai Wynyard at all?
Yeah we’ve met a few times around Australia. He comes to play tournaments a few times a year. I’ve met him a few times.

So you’ll get a roommate in December. Are you surprised at how nice the rooms are?
Honestly, it’s Kentucky. I wouldn’t expect anything less than this. If you’re good on the court, it comes from off the court. Everything that happens off the court translates over, and I think everyone understands that. VT