If there’s one thing every player entering the NBA coming out of Kentucky already knows, it’s that Big Blue Nation is everywhere. On Tuesday, former UK center Isaac Humphries described it.
“I’m fortunate to know a lot of people in the NBA, just through Kentucky,” Humphries said. “It’s really cool to be able to go to each team and know somebody, because ‘Cats are everywhere.”
The 7-foot Humphries was in Denver for the Nuggets’ second session of pre-draft workouts on the UCHealth Practice Court at the Pepsi Center. He was one of six players participating, three of whom had Colorado ties.
Humphries didn’t have Colorado ties, but he did have one to the Nuggets — former teammate and good friend Jamal Murray.
“Jamal and I were good friends when we were at school together,” Humphries said. “We hung out a lot. He’s a great person, I really value his friendship. We’ve been playing together on and off since we were 17, 16, internationally and stuff like that. So, we’ve developed that friendship.”
When it came time to schedule workouts, Humphries urged his agent to include the Nuggets on the list.
“I was really excited to come to the Nuggets,” Humphries said. “I was asking my agent: Can we get the Nuggets so I can see Jamal? It was really cool to be able to get the Nuggets in, and it was cool for them to want me to come. I was really grateful to be able to see Jamal.”
And, of course, put skills on display that he hopes helps him land a job in the NBA.
Eric Garcia, meanwhile, grew up watching the Nuggets. So to pull on the team’s practice uniform on Tuesday was in many ways a surreal experience for the point guard, who starred at Grandview High School in Aurora before becoming one of the most productive point guards in Wofford history.
“I kind of laughed in the hotel (Monday) night,” Garcia said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to go workout for the hometown team.’ Growing up watching Nick Van Exel and Antonio McDyess were some of my earliest basketball memories. So, it’s kind of come full circle. It’s a really cool opportunity.”
At Wofford, Garcia finished as just one of three players to score over 1,000 points and dish out over 400 assists in a career. He was third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.77).
Why was his assist-to-turnover ratio so high?
“Fear can be a good motivator, because I didn’t want to make my coach mad,” Garcia said, smiling. “I just value taking care of the ball. I know my coach at Wofford valued taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers.”
Two more players from the University of Colorado were in Tuesday’s workout as well – Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon. Rounding out the six-pack of players were Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams and Campbell’s Chris Clemons.