Kentucky has landed yet another piece in their 2015 recruiting class, as 7-foot Australian — by way of La Lumiere in Indiana — Isaac Humphries as sources have told NBCSports.com is expected to reclassify to 2015 and sign with the Wildcats.
Humphries joins a recruiting class that is looking increasingly like a mock United Nations. Kentucky’s best incoming big man — Haitian center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 player in the class — and guard — Canadian standout Jamal Murray — are both from abroad, and the Wildcats also have a commitment from New Zealand center Tai Wynyard in the Class of 2016; there’s a chance Wynyard could end up in Lexington in December as well.
Top 15 guard Isaiah Briscoe, four-star wing Charles Matthews and JuCo shooter Mychal Mulder round out Cal’s 2015 class.
Humphries is not a typical John Calipari big man. He’s not a freak athlete like a Willie Cauley-Stein or a Nerlens Noel. He doesn’t have the same skill level as a Karl-Anthony Towns or an Anthony Davis. (Who does?) He’s not a world class shot-blocker or a guy that is going to command double-teams on the low block.
What he is, however, is another big body, which is something that Kentucky does lack this season. Prior to this signing, the Wildcats did not have a true backup center for Labissiere. Marcus Lee is better suited to play as a four-man, an energy guy that is asked to rebound, block shots and catch lobs at the rim. Alex Poythress is an undersized four that is coming off of a torn ACL. Derek Willis has had some promising moments in his two seasons as a reserve, but he’s still one of these guys that’s closer to a three than he is a five.
Humphries is insurance.
And he’s pretty good for an insurance policy, as he averaged 18.9 points, 11.3 boards and 3.3 blocks in the U17 World Championships.
Humphries is a physical low-post presence, a kid that will play hard, will rebound and has a soft-enough touch that he can finish around the rim with either hand as well as knock down the occasional jumper out to 12-15 feet. Worst cast scenario, he’s a guy that provides five fouls, a chance to rest Labissiere and an option to play a big front line with Twin Towers. Best case? He’ll end up being the guy every Kentucky fan hoped Dakari Johnson would end up being.
But there may be more to it than that, as the issues that have surrounded Labissiere throughout his recruitment have not been completely answered. No one that I’ve spoken to knows what the future holds for Labissiere, but the general consensus is that Calipari would not take a kid if he wasn’t going to be eligible. That said, there is enough smoke surrounding Labissiere and his guardian, Gerald Hamilton, that no one would be surprised if he got dinged for something.
One of the major questions for Labissiere is regarding the school he attended as a senior. He transferred out of Memphis Evangelical Christian school and into Lausanne Collegiate School, alsoin Memphis, but was ruled ineligible to play for the basketball team by the state of Tennessee. So Hamilton created a prep school called Reach Your Dreams Prep, which didn’t exist until this winter, for Labissiere to play as a senior.
It wasn’t the smoothest of transfers, to say the least.
Think about it like this: if Calipari was so confident that there would be no issues with Labissiere, would he be working so hard to bring in kids that play the same position as him?
The bottom line, however, is that with or without Labissiere, adding a player like Humphries now — and bringing in a player like Wynyard in December — is far from a bad thing.