Senior Jailyn Ingram gives Bulldogs a boost in second game back

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are among the worst that a player can suffer, but Georgia senior forward Jailyn Ingram fought his way through the struggles and made his way back to the court.

Ingram collapsed on the baseline in a non-contact situation against Jacksonville last December, and was ruled out from there.

Before the injury, Ingram was a solid contributor for the struggling Bulldogs. He was the team’s leading rebounder (six per game) and third-leading scorer (10.7).

In Georgia’s 73-54 win over Hampton Wednesday evening, Ingram returned to pre-injury form, scoring 14 points with four 3-pointers off the bench for the Bulldogs.

“We had a moment talking about just coming out there and doing the small things -- the things that bring value to the team,” Ingram said of coach Mike White’s message before the game.

“He was playing so well, and I wanted to play him the rest of the game with the way he was shooting it and defending,” White said of Ingram’s performance. “He’s got a presence out there too. He’s older. He’s got a great basketball IQ. He’s got great instincts. He was getting loose balls and playing with physicality.”

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Even after a year away from the court, Ingram played a hefty portion of the game with starters Kario Oquendo and M.A. Moncrieffe sidelined with injuries.

“19 minutes was probably a lot for him,” White said. “I’m sure he’ll feel it tomorrow. He’ll sleep well, but he deserved all 19 for sure.”

On Sunday afternoon, Ingram made his first appearance in nearly a year for Georgia in its 62-47 home win over East Tennessee State. He went scoreless in four minutes, but it was a relief for him and all those around him to see him back on the court.

Ingram air-balled his only shot in that game, and that was going through his mind in his second game back.

“I had to redeem myself from last game,” Ingram said with a chuckle. “Once I saw the first one went in, I was pretty confident, so the rest of them felt good.”

White believes that Ingram was able to grow from a maturity and intelligence standpoint through his year off the court.

“Now, he’s a guy where the game is really slow for him,” White said. “He understands now. It’s pretty prevalent with guys that have to sit, and it’s the best way that they can contribute. They absorb information and pass it along to teammates. He’s really taken advantage of that.”

Georgia 73, Hampton 54

For Ingram’s teammates, they were just happy to see him back on the court.

“That’s my guy obviously,” fellow senior Braelen Bridges said. “I always want him to succeed. Him getting hurt last year hurt me. Just excited for him to get back on the court and play the way he played (against Hampton).”

“Just constantly encouraging me to keep going -- just to wait my turn,” Ingram said of his team’s role in his return. “Guys kept hitting me up about working out and stuff like that. So they just continue to give me that encouragement and motivation to stay with it.”

White said he can rely on Ingram’s energy as a spark for the improved Bulldogs, who have already matched last season’s win total (six) through just eight games.

Ingram’s shooting ability is another area of substantial growth from his time on the sidelines.

“Really proud of Jaylin,” White said after the win Wednesday. “I don’t think anyone in the room, including myself, fully understands what he’s been through during his seven-year college career.”