Adelaide 36ers big man Isaac Humphries laid the platform for his promising career during his successful season at the Sydney Kings back in 2017-2018.
On Saturday night, Humphries will aim to bring down his former franchise when his 36ers host the injury-hit Kings.
The Sydney-born centre excelled during his time at the Kings under the coaching of Andrew Gaze to collect the NBL’s Rookie of the Year award.
This success in the Harbour City paved the way for Humphries to pick up a two-way NBA contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
He played five NBA games for the Hawks but mostly appeared in the G League before signing another two-way deal with the Orlando Magic.
The Magic deal didn’t last long, though, opening the door for him to return to Australia and sign a two-year contract with Adelaide.
Humphries has reunited with the man who recruited him to the NBL, former Kings managing director Jeff Van Groningen.
Van Groningen is now the general manager at Adelaide, overseeing the franchise’s rebuild led by future stars like NBA draft-bound sensation Josh Giddey.
He also couldn’t be prouder of the polished and productive player that Humphries has become since the pair’s days together in Sydney.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to have Isaac back in a group and see him up close,” said Van Groningen, who went out of his way to make Humphries a priority signing at the 36ers.
“I had the chance to do that with him when he was a rookie in Sydney at the age of 19.
“At the time I felt Isaac was already a very special player but still developing, but I think what we are seeing now is a far more mature product.
“Isaac is a player that won’t be in our league forever if he keeps playing at the level he is producing at the moment.”
Adelaide 36ers big man Isaac Humphries was a fresh-faced rookie when he played for the Sydney Kings back in 2017/2018. Picture: AAP Image/Brian CasseySource:AAP
Van Groningen is particularly pleased to see Humphries form a strong combination with 36ers rookie guard Giddey.
The pair put on a show in Adelaide’s impressive win over New Zealand on Wednesday.
Humphries finished with 21 points and five rebounds, while Giddey added 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Van Groningen believes Australian basketball fans should feel blessed to have such a gifted young duo in the NBL.
“It has been exciting to watch Isaac’s talent combined with an emerging guard talent in Giddey,” he said.
“I think those two together have been developing a chemistry together that bodes well for the future of Australian basketball.”
Van Groningen expects Humphries to continue his impressive form against the Kings on Saturday night.
“We are really pleased with Isaac’s level of play,” he said.
“He has been an absolute presence for us defensively, he is really strong on the boards and the energy that he plays with is really helping us.
“From Isaac’s rookie year to now, my faith in his ability and my belief that he is an elite level player has been reflected in the manner in which I went after him twice to get him on the programs that I was running.”
Rookie Of The Year Isaac Humphries speaks at the 2018 NBL MVP Awards Night at Crown Palladium on February 27, 2018. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The Kings, meanwhile, are reeling heading into the Adelaide clash following an ankle injury to Brazilian star Didi Louzada during Tuesday’s loss to Brisbane.
Louzada’s setback adds to the Kings’ woes, with Angus Glover, Xavier Cooks and Daniel Kickert all on the sidelines.
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