Isaac Humphries was 14 years old and half a world away from Lexington when he got his first look at the University of Kentucky basketball program.
On Thursday, it was announced that Humphries, now 17, will be a Wildcat.
The 7-footer from Australia has signed with UK and is expected to be eligible to play for the Cats in the upcoming 2015-16 season. High school coach Brad Johnstin has been helping Humphries navigate the recruiting process, and he told the Herald-Leader that UK's new signee would move to Lexington on Saturday.
Humphries was introduced to UK basketball by watching ESPN's All-Access Kentucky series, which was televised before the 2012-13 season. A little more than two years after that, Humphries moved from Australia to the United States and drew the immediate interest of Coach John Calipari.
Originally a member of the recruiting class of 2016, Humphries played the final half of last season with La Lumiere — a prep school in Indiana — and Johnstin said they started to explore the option of reclassifying to 2015 in March.
Unlike many high school prospects who jump up a class, this move was not made to get Humphries to the NBA any quicker.
The UK signee turned 17 in January, and NBA Draft age eligibility rules will prevent him from entering the draft until 2017 at the earliest. That means Humphries will be a Wildcat for at least two seasons.
"He has to go to college for two years ... ," Johnstin said. "It's a free year of unbelievable development. It was a no-brainer."
Humphries made a name for himself in international circles with his performance for the Australian junior national team at last year's FIBA under-17 world championships in Dubai.
He averaged 18.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots at the event, leading the Aussies to a silver medal after a title game loss to a U.S. team that included top high school prospects Malik Newman, Harry Giles, Caleb Swanigan and Ivan Rabb.
Humphries had 41 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks in a game against Team Canada during the tournament.
He moved to the United States in December and played his first game a few days later for La Lumiere, perennially one of the top high school programs in the country.
Humphries showed flashes of his potential, but he mostly struggled during his short American high school career. Johnstin blamed it on the bad timing of his transfer, and that Humphries was coming off an injury while trying to transition to the American style of play and adjust to new teammates and coaches.
"If you really want to judge him, just look at the FIBA games in Dubai and who he played against and what he did there," Johnstin said.
Scout.com ranks Humphries as the No. 50 overall prospect in the class of 2015. He earned scholarship offers from Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, Illinois and several other programs before signing with Kentucky.
DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, who regularly scouts international players, views Humphries as an intriguing long-term prospect but said UK fans should temper their immediate expectations.
Givony said Humphries should do fine in a limited role during his freshman season with the Wildcats, complementing his touch and finishing ability around the basket.
"You have to let it play out," he said. "He's tall and he has skill. Those guys — they can develop quickly. Right now, he's not someone that you can immediately project. It's going to take time, and there's nothing wrong with that. Any college in America would take a guy like Isaac Humphries. And just work with him and figure it out.
"Not every guy has to be one-and-done."
Humphries, who is listed at 260 pounds, gives the Cats something that otherwise was missing from the 2015-16 roster: A tall, big body inside.
Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress are expected to play the majority of the frontcourt minutes, but none of them has the imposing frame of Humphries.
"He's going to be a guy that can be physical," Johnstin said. "Is he going to play above the rim and do all that stuff? No. But he's good, man. The biggest thing for him is just going to be the chance to compete every day with better players.
"He hasn't been exposed to guys like Skal every day. I can't wait for that."
Humphries might help UK some this season, but he is a bigger piece of the program's long-term outlook.
The Cats are now guaranteed to have Humphries, New Zealand power forward Tai Wynyard and new class of 2016 commitment Sacha Killeya-Jones as frontcourt options for the 2016-17 season, and possibly beyond.
Calipari is recruiting other talented post players, including Harry Giles, Marques Bolden and Jarrett Allen, in preparation for the possibility that Labissiere, Lee and Poythress go pro after this season.
Humphries already will have some college experience when he's asked to play a bigger role one year from now, and he can't wait to get started.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity for him," Johnstin said. "He's really happy to be there."