In 2014, Donte Ingram arrived at Loyola for his first season as a member of the Loyola men’s basketball team. He averaged 5 ppg and 3.1 rpg that year as the Ramblers went 24-15 to win the College Basketball Invitational tournament.
Four years later, Ingram averaged 11 ppg and 6.4 rpg as a senior en route to being named second team All-Missouri Valley Conference and NCAA Tournament All-South Region. He also hit the game-winning shot against University of Miami in the first round of March Madness March 15.
Now, he’s looking to continue his basketball career at the next level: the NBA.
Teams have been showing more interest in the Chicago native over the last few weeks. He’s “in conversation” to be selected in the second round, a source with knowledge of the draft told The Phoenix. Scouts like his quick shot release and his ability to play both guard and forward, according to the source.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ingram said. “I’m just blessed to be in this position and be able to showcase my talents and showing teams what I can do. I think, going through the process, I caught a lot of teams’ eyes … I’m just happy to be able to do that.”
Last year, former Loyola guard Milton Doyle paved the way for Ingram’s NBA chances, when he signed an NBA Summer League contract with the Brooklyn Nets after going undrafted. Doyle then signed an NBA G-League contract and was given a two-way contract by the Nets in December. Doyle became the first Loyola graduate to play in an NBA game since Andre Moore in 1988. He averaged 20.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.5 apg and 1.6 stpg with the Long Island Nets –– Brooklyn’s G-League affiliate –– in 45 games last season.
Ingram said he’s kept in close contact with Doyle throughout his workouts and he’s learning from Doyle’s dedication.
“Coming from where we came from, the school that we come from, sometimes you can go under the radar,” Ingram said. “For us, we’re two very hard workers and we understand that’s the most important part … we’re very focused and we stay in touch. We’re in the same agency. But, we’re just two hard-working individuals who are chasing a dream and we believe that we’ll get there.”
This isn’t the first time Ingram followed Doyle’s example. In 2013, Doyle, a graduate of Chicago’s Marshall High School, became the first Chicago Public League player to join Loyola’s roster since 2008. Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, was recruited to the Ramblers the following year and might follow Doyle to the NBA.
“We’ve always been close,” Doyle said. “Being at Loyola created a bond … we’re more like brothers than friends.”
Doyle’s currently a restricted free agent, meaning the Nets can match contract offers from other teams and he continues to work out with some of his Nets teammates. He said he’ll know more about his future with the team after the draft.
Doyle said his biggest advice for Ingram during the workouts was to prove he’s better than players from high-major schools who might get drafted earlier because of where they played.
“I told him from my experience, I got to play against a couple guys who were picked high in the draft and I killed them in my workouts,” Doyle said. “I told him he’s going to do the same thing. He’s better than most of those guys.”
Former Rambler Ben Richardson was the only player by Ingram’s side for all four years of his career at Loyola. Richardson, who’s also exploring professional opportunities in Europe and the NBA, said worked out for the Bulls with Ingram and is excited to see what happens on draft night.
“I’ve seen Donte develop [from our first year] on and how hard he’s worked … to get to where he is now as a guy who could get drafted in the second round,” Richardson said. “I’m super excited for him and I’m hoping for the best. I think that whoever takes him or wherever he ends up going, they’re going to be lucky and he’s going to help that team, for sure.”
Loyola head coach Porter Moser said he’s proud of Ingram for chasing his dream of playing in the NBA. Moser said if Ingram makes an NBA roster, it’d prove student-athletes don’t have to attend high-major schools to get their shot.
“I think the one thing people always try to tell [student-athletes] is, ‘Go to this league. This league will get you to the NBA’,” Moser said. “It’s not a certain league that’ll get you to the NBA. It’s what you do. We’re very proud that we’re a program of development … it shows you can get better and get an opportunity in the NBA. It’s about what you do and how you improve.”
The NBA Draft is set for Thursday night at 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN.