Brandon Ingram: On The Rise

As the No. 2 pick in the draft, Brandon Ingram is one of the most recognizable rookies in the league, and perhaps Los Angeles’ next superstar, but just a few short years ago he was like any other young athlete: a relatively unknown player trying to make a name for himself.

Ingram’s story starts in the basketball-crazy town of Kinston, North Carolina, the hometown of NBA players like Reggie Bullock and Jerry Stackhouse. It didn’t take long for basketball to become Ingram’s obsession and he quickly found himself spending long nights in the gym with his dad and brother.

His talent was undeniable, but it wasn’t until he began playing extensively on the AAU circuit that his career really took off. Ingram began working with his idol, Jerry Stackhouse, forming a bond that remains strong to this day. Eventually, Ingram joined Stackhouse’s AAU team, Stackhouse Elite, and his career exploded.

I started hearing some of the whispers about him being able to shoot the ball really well as a youngster. He would make shots. This little skinny kid wasn’t taking it off the dribble, wasn’t doing a whole lot – he was just running to his spot and shooting the ball. I was like, ‘Man, this kid is going to be alright, because you could tell he was going to grow.’
Jerry Stackhouse
Former NBA Player

Ingram took the opportunity and ran. A higher level of competition on the AAU circuit gave him chances he knew he wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

AAU ball is about exposure and giving college coaches a chance to see what you can do. It gives you a chance to see what type of player you are.
Brandon Ingram

Ingram’s national profile skyrocketed as a result of his play on the AAU circuit. It was there that he proved he could not only play with the nation’s best, but he could dominate the country’s top-tier players. While he faced off against the best of the best at national tournaments, it was the players on his own team that taught him the most.

“The most memorable thing from AAU was just the way our guys competed every day,” Ingram said. “We had a couple Division-1 athletes on our team that battled every day at practice. The competition level that we had in practice was unreal. I don’t think any moment in any game was better than that.”

His relationship with Stackhouse was also impactful. Ingram was just another young kid who aspired to play in the league one day, and Stackhouse was a proven mentor who could show him the way.

Being able to work with Jerry (Stackhouse) when I was young gave me a mental toughness. Seeing him work every single day gave me a certain mentality. It gave me a chance to see how hard I need to work to get to the level he was at, so I just tried to watch him, get some advice. He led by example so I just watched and tried to incorporate things he would do into my own game.
Brandon Ingram

That workhorse mindset, combined with Ingram’s long and lanky frame, created one of the nation’s top prospects. At 6-foot-9, he had a pure shooting stroke and next-level athleticism. His skill set stood out even as he went up against top-ranked recruits at major AAU tournaments. That summer of playing top-level AAU teams proved to be important to Ingram’s development.

“He was a whole new kid,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “From the time we finished our AAU season to the beginning of his senior season, man, he took a big step. I think it was a lot of that summer work that helped him.”

His meteoric rise eventually landed him at Duke, where he starred for a year before going pro. Now, as part of an up-and-coming LA squad, he’s more focused than ever before. The transition to the league is a tough one, but Ingram’s living out his dream.

The late nights and long weekends in the gym have finally paid off, but Ingram said his journey is just getting started. He’s made a name for himself, but there’s no question he’s still on the rise.

I wake up every day with a passion for the game and for the opportunity to be on the floor doing something I’ve been doing my whole life. I go in every day and try to put in the work to become a great player.
Brandon Ingram

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