Isaac Humphries was surprised he got invited to SEC Media Day, but then decided he deserved to be there as much as anyone because of his offseason work and improvement.
By: Larry Vaught
Rather than take a chance on delaying Isaac Humphries’ return from what has been described as a minor leg/knee issue, Kentucky coach John Calipari did not play his sophomore in last week’s Blue-White Game.
That is an indicator that Calipari believes Humphries is ready to make solid contributions to this team as freshman center Bam Adebayo’s backup.
“His swelling is gone, but I don’t want him to do something that makes it swell again,” Calipari said after the Blue-White Game. “Let’s get this thing totally cleared. It’s nothing spectacular. Obviously, if there’s some swelling, there is some issues that he’s got to deal with.”
Calipari did take Humphries along with Isaiah Briscoe to SEC Media Day in Nashville. Many thought he would take either Dominique Hawkins or Derek Willis, both seniors, with Briscoe.
Humphries admitted he was a “little surprised” to be picked but enjoyed his time with SEC media members.
“I have improved a lot and I am sick of doubting myself in that sense. I just got over it. I am pretty good now. Why wouldn’t he choose me to come down because I am doing pretty well… and people like my accent,” Humphries said.
Here’s more of what thoughts he shared at SEC Media Day.
Question: Is defense more of a focus this preseason?
Humphries: “For sure. We have really worked on our defense. Our offense, we have a system and know how to play. But defense, we like to rely on that.”
Question: What do you think of the freshmen?
Humphries: “It is obviously hard coming into Kentucky as a freshman. It takes time to get used to how crazy it really is. But once you are used to it and buy into everything it is all about, you don’t look back. They are handling it very well.”
Question: What does Bam Adebayo do best?
Humphries: “He is really good if he catches the ball on the post at getting to the basket no matter what. It’s hard to stop his back to the basket move. He’s really talented. He can knock down a shot every now and then. He is definitely working on that, too. We want to be well rounded and our system allows us to step out and shoot because we all can shoot.”
Question: Will shooting away from the basket be a strength for you?
Humphries: “Definitely. Shooting is such a confidence thing in a game. If you think it is going in, nine out of 10 times it will go in. I know last year when I was put into a game, I was always very hesitant to do anything. I know this year I will just be more confident to shoot. Mid-range shooting is a big part of my game. Obviously, I am not going to be afraid to step out and shoot it because I know I can make shots.”
Question: How challenging is it mentally coming to UK because of the competition on the team?
Humphries: “It really tests you as a teammate to be honest. You are so used to being the guy on your team and here there are 10 or 12 guys all the same and just as talented. You have to work very hard for the playing time and recognition. Being able to become a better teammate from learning all that stuff is very important.”
Question: How do you answer that challenge on and off the court?
Humphries: “I am not one of those people who blames anyone else but myself. It’s me that is doing it. It is not anyone else’s fault. It just comes from me being independent growing up. Learning life lessons early. Moving out of home to play basketball at 14. I find myself very mature as an 18-year-old. I am just very realistic about the world and feel like blaming someone else for something you are not doing right is so unrealistic and I don’t know why someone would do that. You see it all the time, so I just try to be realistic.”
Question: Do you ever think about that you could still be a high school senior at 18 years old?
Humphries: “Yeah I do, but I definitely would not be the player I am yet at all. Last year I was developed some. It is weird to think of it like that but I am also lucky to be at Kentucky and be so young. Last year was a good year for me to learn and grow as a player. It was definitely a good year for me and now my sophomore year can be the productive year.”
Question: Do the high expectations for this team bother you?
Humphries: “Honestly and it sounds weird, but we are so used to expectations. Last year we came in with expectations. This year we have more. It is just something you get used to and you just learn how to put it in the back of your head and focus on what you need to do. I just focus on what I need to do.”
Question: How was the flight from Lexington to Nashville for SEC Media Day with coach John Calipari?
Humphries: “It was okay. We were all squashed in a plane together. We just tried to talk about how it would be this year, who was doing well, how much the freshmen have developed and stuff like that.”
Question: Do family and friends in Australia understand what these media days are like for a Kentucky basketball player?
Humphries: “No. Even our professional teams don’t get stuff like this. They honestly don’t know much. I want my best friend to come over and experience it all with me but it is impossible. It’s just fun to have someone from home understand what is happening because it is such a crazy thing. It’s a lot of fun doing it, but no one understands this back home.”