If Kentucky disappointed on the recruiting trail during the spring signing period, it has made up considerable ground in the ensuing weeks. On Saturday, CBSSports.com reported that Isaac Humphries plans to reclassify and join the Wildcats for the start of the 2015-16 season. The Australian center reportedly is on a visit to Kentucky with Wildcats point guard commit Jamal Murray this weekend.
If Humphries, who has yet to announce his decision, becomes the next member of Kentucky’s incoming recruiting class, it would help alleviate the impact of losing four big men who were selected in this year’s NBA draft, including three in the lottery. With Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson having left for the NBA, the Wildcats needed to replenish their frontcourt rotation through recruiting.
Prior to Saturday, the only forward/center recruit expected to arrive in Lexington, Ky., before the upcoming season was Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015, according to Rivals.com. In addition, Tai Wynyard, a four-star power forward in the class of 2016, indicated in an interview with DraftExpress in May that he may consider enrolling at Kentucky for the beginning of the spring semester.
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Listed at 7-foot and 245 pounds, Humphries is renowned for his size, ability to establish position on the low block and convert around the basket. He spent part of this season playing at La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind., and also has competed with Australian youth national teams. In seven games last summer at the FIBA U-17 World Championships, Humphries averaged 18.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.
Humphries, who is rated No. 35 in the class of 2016, according to Rivals.com, would join a frontcourt that already includes three projected draft picks. Labissiere and forwards Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress—who missed most of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament—all are included in DraftExpress’s latest 2016 mock, with Labissiere listed as the No. 1 pick.
At his youth camp on Saturday, Kentucky coach John Calipari said, “Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah,” according to the The Courier-Journal in Louisville, when asked if he thought Labissiere—whom some believe could have difficulty receiving clearance from the NCAA—would be eligible to play at the start of the season.
The expected addition of Humphries would round out a recruiting class already considered among the nation’s best. Besides Labissiere, the Wildcats have landed five-star prospect Murray, five-star point guard Isaiah Briscoe, four-star shooting guard Charles Matthews and junior college transfer Mychal Mulder. The group is No. 3 in Rivals.com’s team rankings, behind Duke and Arizona.
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It wasn’t so long ago that Calipari, following a series of misses on several of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets, penned a lengthy blog post with the apparent purpose of quelling prospects’ fears of playing in his so-called platoon system with hockey-style substitutions. In Humphries and Murray, Kentucky has since tabbed two highly touted international recruits who reclassified to play for Calipari a year earlier than expected.
If this is what a “down year” in recruiting for Kentucky looks like, opponents better hope the Wildcats don’t begin recruiting well by their standards. Kentucky’s status as the premier destination for the nation’s top prospects may be up for debate temporarily, but its assembling of this class proves that the apprehension over its recruiting misfortune this spring was probably overblown.