Brandon Ingram made it official on Monday, announcing his intentions to leave Duke after this year and enter the 2016 NBA Draft. Thought by many to be one of the top two picks in the draft (if not the first, supplanting LSU’s Ben Simmons), this decision did not come as a huge surprise. But how Ingram announced, on the Monday of the national championship game and with a thoughtful letter on The Players’ Tribune, added some national buzz to the otherwise expected news.
“Brandon Ingram was a special player at Duke this year, and his best basketball is still ahead of him,” Mike Krzyzewski said Monday. “He is a no-maintenance player who loves the game, has a strong desire to get better and competes every time he steps on the floor. Brandon is also a creative and thoughtful young man who comes from a beautiful family. We’re proud that he’ll always be a member of the Duke basketball family as he pursues an exciting future in professional basketball. I have absolutely loved coaching Brandon.”
Ingram’s post on The Players’ Tribune is worth your read, but if you are short on time we have collected five takeaways from the letter.
1. Mike Krzyzewski is an Instagram lurker, too
Coach K has a Twitter account, but he won’t tell anyone what his handle is or admit to posting his own messages on the platform. He has admitted to lurking on Twitter and using it to see what former, current and prospective future players are saying. I have a sneaking suspicion Krzyzewski also follows a few media members, but’s nothing more than a hunch.
During a visit with Ingram in the recruiting process, Coach K caught the star high schooler off guard with a question about his Instagram account.
via The Players Tribune:
Coach K pulled out his phone. It’s an iPhone 6. For some reason, I’d never considered that Coach K even owned a phone. Not to mention an iPhone 6. But anyway, he said:
“You’ve got a good Instagram.”
Huh? I’m thinking it’s some kind of joke. Or maybe that I posted something I shouldn’t have?
“Tell me what this means to you,” he said, pointing to a quote I had written as a caption for a photo.
The quote was, “Stay hungry and stay humble.”
2. Brandon Ingram calls Jerry Stackhouse “Unc,” and their workouts helped Ingram prepare for high-level basketball
Stackhouse, a Kinston native as well, became Ingram’s coach during AAU basketball when Ingram was in eighth grade. He described one of the workouts that Stackhouse used to put Ingram through when the rising star got to high school.
“Want to know what Unc was like as a coach? Here’s one drill he liked to do with me when I was in high school: I’d start at the elbow with the ball and do jump-stop at the low block. That’s where he’d be standing. He’d want me to lean into him to draw contact and then finish the layup,” Ingram wrote.
The drill always started out normal enough. Jump-stop. A little contact. Finish.
But after a few times, Unc would start really playing defense. Like, NBA defense. He’d grab my forearm really hard or stick an elbow into my ribs.
Then I’d come back the next time swinging my wiry elbows and he’d duck.
“Watch it with the elbows!”
We’d laugh. I loved those drills. I could feel myself getting tougher.
3. Duke freshman Chase Jeter has a great impression of former Duke player and current assistant coach Nate James
And now we all will need to hear that from you as soon as possible, Chase.
4. Ingram’s first piece of memorable Duke gear was a Nolan Smith No. 2 jersey.
Ingram’s older brother went to a Duke game and brought Brandon back a black-and-blue Duke jersey, No. 2 at the time for then-guard Nolan Smith. Smith is now a member of Duke’s staff and Ingram now has his own number that fans associate with in a Duke uniform but for seventh grade Brandon Ingram the “jersey was instantly the coolest thing I owned.”
“There was just one minor problem: It was about two sizes too big. I was under six feet tall, and the jersey barely held on to the edges of my shoulders,” Ingram wrote. “Of course, I wore it anyway. I wore it all the time. I loved it.”
5. There’s one big assignment left at Duke for Ingram
Now that’s declared for the NBA Draft and ended his college playing career, Ingram still has one piece of unfinished business in the classroom in a Public Speaking class the future lottery pick references often in the Players’ Tribune piece.
“I still have one more assignment to turn in,” Ingram wrote. “It’s for my public speaking class. The assignment is a six-to-eight minute speech in the style of a TED Talk that I have to deliver in front of the whole class. I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken in front of a group of people for that long.”
Given Ingram’s projected place in a personality-driven NBA, I’d say he’s got a lot more public speaking in his future.