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Ingram adjusting to life as a ‘Georgia’ Bulldog

November 19, 2021 - 00:00
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    Georgia basketball player Jailyn Ingram (0) during an exhibition against Morehouse at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens on Friday, Nov. 3. TONY WALSH/UGA Athletics

Georgia’s Jailyn Ingram is adjusting to his new life in Athens during his final year of collegiate eligibility.

The former Morgan County standout elected to transfer to UGA after spending the last five seasons at FAU, where he reached the 1,000th point mark in his junior campaign. Now, as the Bulldogs have started their season, Ingram is becoming a leader in the locker room. He’s also getting to see his family more often at his games, which is important to him.

“Yeah, it’s definitely exciting [playing so close to home],” Ingram said. “Over the last five, six years, a lot of my family hasn’t been able to make the trip to Boca [Raton] to see me play. It’s about a nine-and-a-half-hour drive, so they really weren’t able to come to a lot of games. But now that I stay right down the road, 25 minutes, they are definitely trying to make each and every game, and I can say I had a lot of people in the gym the other night.”

Ingram didn’t get to travel back to Morgan County much during his time in Boca Raton, but now he goes back home often. It’s something that he looks forward to every weekend.

“We have off days on Sundays, so I can show my face and hang out a little bit because during the week we’re extremely busy with school and work-outs,” he said. “Growing up, I feel like every kid from Madison had some dream of attending UGA, whether it’s on an athletic scholarship or academic scholarship. I never thought it would happen, but once I had the chance, it was hard to turn that down.”

Ingram accounted for six points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal in Georgia’s 58-51 win over FIU on Nov. 9. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound power forward had to do a little bit of everything in the season opener against the Panthers. It’s what Crean and his teammates expect of him. Regardless, Ingram accomplished that feat in limited minutes while being banged up.

“Every night you may be lacking in one category, but you have to find a way to stay on the court,” Ingram said. “The other night, my shot wasn’t falling, but I knew that we needed the rebounds and I needed to distribute the ball. So, just find the value in every other thing – not just focusing on one thing – and stand on the court and help my team.”

Ingram is playing on a roster that has 10 new players, so being one of them, he’s trying to help the team come together. Sometimes it’s hard to mesh as a team in these types of situations, but Ingram is doing his best to help. He’s tasked with helping this Georgia squad full of newcomers find its identity.

“At first, it was awkward because you’re in a place where you don’t know anyone,” Ingram said. “As time went on, we started to work out with each other, started to bond. We also started learning history from each and every guy and just started hanging out with each other off the court. Some of us may have classes together. We may stay in the same dorm and things like that, so you just gel like that. Obviously, we still have work to do, but I would definitely say during the summer and this off-season we’ve been able to build some of that chemistry.”

He’s even assumed the role of a mentor to some of the younger guys, especially to freshman Christian Wright.

“JI has made a big impact on me, he’s like my big brother,” Wright said. “He’s been a big influence on me. We work out together with each other like every other morning just getting reps ... It’s great to have him around.”

Ingram earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from FAU in 2020 and is pursuing a master’s in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from UGA. He hasn’t admitted what his future holds, whether it’s basketball or finding a career in his career field. However, he models himself after one of the NBA’s brightest stars, who just won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I like to watch a lot of Khris Middleton,” Ingram said. “He’s just a guy that does everything that he needs for his team. He’s not consumed by one thing. If the team needs him to score, he’ll score. If they need him to defend, he’ll defend. He’ll rebound, distribute the ball, etc, so just watching his game, he’s very humble, but a hardworking guy and basically that’s who I model my game after.”

Ingram will continue his journey in Athens trying to help Georgia get back to the postseason for the first time since the 2014-15 season.