It’s hard to remember the last guy who got out of Kentucky better than when he got in. Isaac Humphries is just the latest prospect who stagnated after going through the John Calipari experience.
He’s still pretty young, as he’ll only turn 19 in January, but year two hasn’t gone much better than year one and there aren’t a lot of signs that a year three would get things back on track. And if he were to declare for the draft after this season, Humphries would maybe be a mid-second round pick if lucky and probably end up in D-League purgatory like Stephen Zimmerman.
Humphries’ calling card at this point of his development is his defense, mostly thanks to his combination of general size (seven-feet, 260-pound frame) and rather appealing mobility for someone with his physical profile.
He is a stout post defender and consistently attentive to his boxout responsibilities, also proving himself able to grab contested boards in traffic, collecting 17.7% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor – a figure that might seem unimpressive at face value but that should be considered within the context that Kentucky has many other prolific defensive rebounders.
Humphries is not a high leaper and has a below average standing reach (eight-foot-11) for someone his height but makes rotations in help-defense, is a generally tough presence to finish around and takes some well-times swings at the ball. He’s averaging 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes, according to basketball-reference.
On the other hand, Humphries also makes a lot of contact on his contests. And while he often tries to jump up vertically, officials pretty much never give him the benefit of the double. Humphries is averaging 6.8 personal fouls per 40 minutes, which have limited his playing time to just 11 minutes per game.
When forced to guard beyond the foul line, Humphries has flashed the ability to wall off dribble penetration in pick-and-roll defense with his lateral mobility and even pick some smaller players on switches, as he’s able to keep pace on straight-line drives and block or effectively contest their shots at the rim – though he’s not built to matchup against more talented types who could shake him side-to-side.
Humphries uses his size well to obtain great position in the low post but isn’t very productive with the touches he gets. His moves are very robotic; his footwork is quite mechanic, his touch on turnaround hooks is iffy and he doesn’t have any sort of explosiveness elevating out of two feet for some dunks after knocking the opponent back. Due to those issues, Humphries has posted a thoroughly disappointing .463 effective field-goal percentage and earned just 3.3 foul shots per 40 minutes.
He hasn’t been given a lot of opportunities in pick-and-roll offense but in those few instances, Humphries has shown so-so hands catching the ball on the move, no ability to roll hard to the basket or to play above the rim as a target for lobs and an iffy touch on non-dunk finishes – converting just 58.5% of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.
Despite a short seven-foot wingspan that isn’t much of an asset helping him rebound outside of his area, Humphries has done well in the offensive glass, collecting 18.6% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor, thanks to his ability to set inside position under the rim. But without possessing any sort of a quick second jump or touch finishing around length, he’s shot just 50% on put-back attempts.
Humphries has flashed some ability facilitating offense from the high post, averaging 1.8 assists per 40 minutes – a figure that could be higher if Kentucky had more shot makers – but it’s unclear where exactly his passing instincts are at this point of his development, since it’s not as if Kentucky runs a Warriors-type of offense.
He’s also flirted with a catch-and-shoot jumper from mid-range that looks workable; he gets the ball off slowly but the release doesn’t look hopeless. That’s a long way from materializing into a real asset, though, as he’s hit just five shots away from the rim so far this season and has shot just 61.5% on foul shots for his career in Lexington.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara