When former Loyola men’s basketball player DaJuan Gouard was in high school, he always had a shadow. At practices, open gyms and games, someone was with him and looking up to him. When Gouard came to Rogers Park from Danville, Illinois, that shadow would come spend weekends with him and attend his collegiate practices and games.
Twelve years later, that shadow still follows in Gouard’s footsteps, but he’s also creating a name for himself. That shadow is Gouard’s brother and junior guard for the Ramblers, Donte Ingram.
This season, Ingram has been an emerging star for the Ramblers. He leads the team in both rebounds (6.5) and three-point percentage (49.4 percent) per game. He is also averaging 13.8 points per game, which is good for third on the team.
In Gouard’s senior season, he averaged 16 points per game, the Ramblers finished as the No. 4 seed in the Horizon League standings and the team made an appearance in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship. The Ramblers currently sit at No. 3 in the MVC standings.
Ingram and Gouard come from a basketball family. Their uncle, Stan Gouard, is a two-time NCAA Division II player of the year and the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Indianapolis.
“Everyone [in our family] plays basketball … It really all started with our uncle Stan Gouard, who played collegiate basketball at University of Southern Indiana,” said Gouard, who is now the head basketball coach at Danville Area Community College. “I think it all started with him, definitely for me, and probably trickled down to Donte.”
Ingram would follow his older brother everywhere, soaking up as much basketball knowledge as possible, according to Gouard.
“[I gave Donte] every piece of advice [I could]. When Donte was younger and I was in high school, Donte did everything I did,” said Gouard. “I tried to teach him just how to work hard. I think a lot of the other things he can do well he picked up because he’s a smart kid. But every aspect of the game that I knew, I tried to teach him.”
Gouard was always pushing Ingram to get better and putting him up against tough older competition, said their mother, Doretha Ingram.
“He was always taking him to the gym and motivating him,” said Doretha. “Donte was always playing against the bigger guys.”
Ingram said he became a much smarter player by practicing against guys 12 years older than him.
“It helped my IQ at a young age. The game is really fast when there’s stronger guys out there,” Ingram said. “When I was younger, the older guys taught me to slow down and think through the game more and just be wiser out there making decisions.”
When Ingram was choosing where to attend college, Gouard said he didn’t want to influence the decision.
“Throughout the process of his recruitment, we talked about [Loyola], and I told him I didn’t want him to choose it because of me,” Gouard said. “The main thing he wanted to do was be comfortable wherever he went, and I guess Loyola was at the top of his list in terms of that.”
Their mother also tried to show Ingram she would be happy about whatever choice he made.
“When he was going on visits, I would try to say things like, ‘Oh I like this school. I think it would really fit you,’ but I think the fact that DaJuan went here was a dealbreaker,” Doretha Ingram said.
Despite being encouraged by his brother and mother to go wherever he felt the most comfortable, the junior guard said it was hard not to want to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“When I [took the recruitment trip to Loyola], I liked campus, I liked the history, and with my brother coming here, I thought it’d be a good fit for me,” Donte Ingram said.
In Gouard’s senior season, he went down with an MCL tear but came back just seven games later to average 17.7 points per game and helped lead the team to a 10-5 record. This season, Ingram also injured his MCL. Since returning just three games later, he has averaged 17 points per game and helped the Ramblers to their best record in their four seasons in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Ingram said he remembers exactly when Gouard got hurt, and it helped to think about that when he was trying to come back from the injury.
“Obviously, I remember it when I was younger. They were playing North Carolina. First play of the game, Sean May fell on his knee, he tore his MCL but he came back and had a good season,” said Ingram. “When I tore my MCL, I was happy because it could have been worse and it came into my mind that my brother had the same injury, and he bounced back just fine. So, I felt I could do the same thing.”
Ingram and the Ramblers are scheduled to continue MVC play against Southern Illinois University on Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. in Gentile Arena.