Getting To Know: Joe Ingles

Getting To Know: Joe Ingles
Oct 11, 2007, 11:06 pm
Aleks Maric, Aaron Bruce, and Andrew Ogilvy will all play in the NCAA this year, and all attended the AIS, the Australian Institute of Sport. Andrew Bogut and Brad Newley were drafted to play in the NBA, and also have the AIS on their resume. The latest in the long line of AIS grads to have their name brought up in American basketball circles is now Joe Ingles.

The 20-year-old is a legitimate 6-8, but projects strictly as a wing prospect. This versatility begins to explain why he has attracted the attention of the NBA. Ingles was eligible for the 2007 draft, but chose to stay in Australia and continue to play for the Melbourne based South Dragons of the National Basketball League.

Ingles was named the 2007 NBL Rookie of the Year and was the high school teammate of Brad Newley, the 2005 NBL Rookie of the Year and second round draft pick of the Houston Rockets this year. He set the NBL record for most points by a player in their first game, scoring 29 on 11 of 15 shooting. He averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists --mostly coming off the bench for the Dragons for the year.

Ingles has an exceptionally high basketball IQ, and excellent fundamentals—a testament to the coaching he received in high school at the AIS, essentially an academy for promising athletes in different sports from all over Australia. He has range out to the international three point range with his smooth left handed jump shot, and has recently begun to improve the quickness of his release to compliment his already excellent shooting mechanics. Because of his sweet stroke, his feel for the game, as well as his notable athleticism (especially relative to the league he plays in), he is able to put the ball on the floor effectively to get past defenders. As of now, he doesn’t have the strength to finish all of his drives, but that will probably come with age and maturity. His frame is currently not at a point that would allow him to take the pounding he would get playing in the NBA, though.

To counter whatever shortcomings he may have getting into the teeth of the defense and finishing, Ingles has begun to develop a very solid mid-range game. A natural lefty, he dribbles well enough with his this hand to play off the dribble when the situation calls for it, which would allow him to avoid grinding in the post. His length allows him to rebound the ball at the NBL level, but against an increased level of competition, he will clearly need some additional bulk. Ingles can be aggressive on the boards at times, and is quite productive when doing so.

He is also a terrific passer at this point in his development, and his 3 assists a game last year would have been higher had his teammates been able to finish on a consistent basis. Just last week, he showed his potential in this area by dishing out 10 assists in a game against Adelaide for example. This all bodes well for his chances of being projected as a legit rotation player at the swing position in the NBA, however he will have to improve his lateral quickness in order to defend the more athletic players he will encounter while manning the wing. This will be one of the first question marks NBA decision makers will bring up when evaluating his play in the Australian league, figuring out whether he’ll be able to defend his position at the NBA level. In a recent game we took in from just two weeks ago, he played heavy minutes at the power forward spot.

Another weakness we observed from breaking down his game footage is that he clearly isn’t as strong a ball-handler with his right hand as he is with his left. Even though he can handle with this hand, and even create his own shot at times with one or two straight-line dribbles, he hesitates to do so because he of his average ball-control. It is obvious that he favors his left hand, and defenders now often dare him to go right.

Ingles, as mentioned, has good form on his shot, but isn’t always as consistent as you might like from behind the arc—shooting just 32% last year from that range. He has a very deliberate follow through, which could cause him problems in the NBA, since he won’t have as much time to get his shot off.

While Ingles does have a good combination of size and mobility for a small forward, he still isn’t a terribly explosive athlete, neither laterally (defensively) nor vertically (finishing around the hoop). He does sneak up at you at times, though, making surprisingly crafty plays that you might not expect considering his somewhat unconventional style of play.

Ingles and the South Dragons are off to a disappointing 0-3 record to start off the season, so they will need his basketball smarts and versatility to right their ship. As far as his NBA chances go, he’s clearly a guy that teams will have to keep close tabs on, as if he can improve on his fairly correctable weaknesses (particularly sharpening up his ball-handling, outside shooting, and perimeter defense) he could make for a truly interesting draft prospect.

Interview with Joe Ingles

What is the AIS and how would you describe to someone who has never heard of it before?

I believe the AIS is just like an American College, but in Australia. The only difference is that all the students there are playing sports. You live on site, train, physio, doctor, eat and pretty much everything on campus. All athletes there have to attend school as well. So basically just like a college, everyone is the same age. There is great coaching and individual instruction, and it’s a really great setup for young athletes.

Could you run us through a typical day there?

Start the day with shooting in the morning, then head to school for a class or two, come back and have a individual or team weights, go back to school for some more classes, team training usually about 4 in the afternoon, then dinner and athletes attending school have a two hour study hall session from 7-9. So most days you are extremely busy.

What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages
of attending an academy of this type, socially, academically, and as far as basketball goes?

I know for me personally, it was a positive. First off, getting use to it is the biggest thing, and some people take longer than others, but when you get used to the system, it’s great. You get to meet some many new people from all different sports, and play the sport you love 3-4 times a day. It is based in Canberra, which isn’t the most riveting place in Aus, but with all your mates there you can definitely find things to do. I know if I didn’t get the chance to go, I would not be where I am now.

What factored into your decision to stay in Australia when many of your friends at the AIS decided to go to college?

I always wanted to play in the NBL since I was a youngster, going to games and watching was great and made me really want to play in front of family and friends. Then at the AIS I started to think about going to college, but I thought I was ready to play professionally straight away. I haven't second guessed my decision one bit.

Is there any reason you decided not to declare for last year's draft?

To be honest I didn’t think I was ready. There are lots of things I want to improve on before I enter the draft and I have a great situation with the Dragons where I can work on every aspect of my game. I'm not going to enter till I feel 100% comfortable and so do the people helping me with my decision. I’m excited and I think I have a future in the NBA, but there’s no use rushing into it and I am staying focused on improving so I will be ready when I go through the draft process.

Do you plan on making your name eligible for the next draft?

I will have to weigh that up at the end of this NBL season. It’s definitely not out of the picture, but I will sit down and go through the positives and negatives when the time is right. Right now I am just focused on the NBL season.

When the time is right for you to consider the NBA, do you think enough scouts are at your games for you to get a fair shot?

I think when I do decide to enter the draft, I will be doing it in 100% confidence. I think last year I sort of made a name for myself and I hope that people will follow me this year. It’s a long trip from the US to Australia, but I know scouts can rely on videotape as well. Now that I am with Priority Sports, I know they will do everything possible for all NBA teams/scouts to know all about me.

Is there a chance you would play in Europe for a year in order to help your exposure?

I would definitely consider playing over there. I am also eligible for a European passport, so that will help a lot with trying to get over there.

What do you think about the level of competition in the Australian league?

The NBL is a great league. I know personally it’s been great for me to play against more experienced players instead of guys my own age at college. This year the NBL is probably the strongest it’s ever been, with lots of young talent and competition across the league.

Why didn't you receive an invite to the Australian National team this summer?

I did! I made the final 15 and went on tours in China and Europe with the team. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play in the 3 game series against NZ to qualify for the Olympics. But the tours and all the camps were great for my development and to see what I needed to work on to play at the level.

What are some goals you've set for this season?

This year will be a lot different from my debut season. I sat down with my coach after we recruited a strong scoring team. We decided I was going to take on a strong defensive role on the team. I want to win Defensive player of the year! But I think another goal is to keep working on my shot and strength.

What areas of your game do you think you need to work on?

Definitely core and general strength, I want to get my 3 and NBA 3 extremely consistent, and becoming a vocal leader.

One knock on your game is that sometimes you have trouble finishing through contact, would further developing your right hand help you with this?

I don’t think my right hand is the problem, I think being stronger with the ball with help, I get loose with it sometimes and have been great lately, but will still work on that all year.

If you are playing in the NBA, what position are you?

Small Forward or Shooting Guard. I personally believe I can play both of them, and also believe I can bring it down and run a play for a scorer.

You are playing Brad Newley in a one on one game to eleven…what’s the score and who wins?

11-0 ME!

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