By LARRY VAUGHT
Isaac Humphries had “so many” good memories during his two years on the University of Kentucky basketball team that he could not really pick a most special one.
“I was 17 when I came to Kentucky and left at 19 (after his sophomore season). I grew up here and became who I am here,” said Humphries when he was back in Lexington recently to perform a concert to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. “I grew up here and became a man here.
“A lot of my memories here on the court and off the court are just of the people I met and of engaging with so many fans. Big Blue Nation truly is the best in the world. I have played all around the world now and have not come across fans like this anywhere. Fans made me feel so comfortable my two years at Kentucky.”
If he did have to pick one favorite moment, it would be a bittersweet one —his final game when UK lost 75-73 to North Carolina in the 2017 Elite Eight. The Australian had his best game at UK — 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting in a season-high 21 minutes.
“That game sticks with me a lot. It’s a good memory but still weird because we lost,” Humphries said. “I still can’t watch it. It’s very bittersweet. I didn’t know then it would be my last game. the decision to leave was very hard and I had not planned it all when we played that game. That decision really just came at the last minute.”
So what did make him decide it was the right time to leave just when UK fans got excited about what he might do as a junior in his third season after his North Carolina performance?
“I just needed to step away and find myself and find really what I wanted to do,” Humphries said. “It was hard to do that in such high a pressure environment away from my family.
“My decision to leave was based off that. I missed Kentucky every day and still do but finishing last season on a NBA roster and hoping start on a roster next year makes it all worth it. That’s why this summer my focus is on showing the Clippers that I can bring a lot to the team and securing a contract with them.”