A Baller of a Different Mold

Photo by Yang Zhong

By Kevin McPherson | Tex Preps Basketball

DALLAS — The traditional labels don’t seem to fit Harrison Ingram.

The 6-foot-7 senior at St. Mark’s, a Dallas-based member of the Southwest Preparatory Conference, enters his senior season ranked as one of the Top 20 players in the nation and No. 1 high school prospect in Texas. However, listing him as a forward doesn’t appear to follow any “truth in labeling” guidelines.

He is as comfortable running the offense and shooting from behind the 3-point arc as he is playing in the paint and defending post players.

“I don’t get caught up in positions because I can play any position a coach needs me to,” said Ingram. “At the next level I’m going to be playing four different positions every game, but ‘point forward’ is a good one to use. It shows my point guard skills while having the body of a forward.”

His coach at St. Mark’s, Greg Guiler, agrees.

“Harrison is incredibly versatile, which was the driving factor behind our decision to implement a ‘positionless’ system last year,” said Guiler, head coach for the Lions since 2006. “In most cases, he was our point guard. However, he is so good at making full-speed decisions in transition that we also worked to get the ball in his hands up the sideline early.”

Guiler also noted that in most of St. Mark’s half-court offensive sets, most of the screens set for Ingram were on-ball.

“But again – he is so good at catching and initiating in different places, so we designed ways for him to evolve his game and create without the ball. A lot of players relax after they’ve given up the ball, but he is becoming increasingly dangerous as a cutter/screener/slasher, which takes immense physical and mental stamina and preparation. If I had to label him, I would call him a point guard, but he can truly do it all.”

St. Mark’s, a preseason Top 20 pick nationally, has high expectations for the 2020-21 season, especially considering that Ingram is paired with 6-foot-8 junior Colin Smith to form a pair of difficult matchups for most teams. The Lions, which Guiler says could be “one of our best teams ever,” will learn early with a matchup against traditional power Duncanville.

Ingram, who holds a 4.0 GPA, narrowed his potential college choices from 10 to six in August, adding Howard University to the list that also includes Stanford and Harvard, along with perennial blue-chippers North Carolina and Michigan. He chose Stanford in mid-September.

While the addition of Howard may have surprised some followers, Ingram believes college basketball could see a rise in historically black colleges and universities appearing on the radars of more top recruits, especially following the commitment of Makur Maker to Howard and one of 2023’s top players, Mikey Williams, announcing that a slew of HBCU’s, including Texas Southern, had made his Top 10 list in late June 2020.

“I think it could definitely be a trend because it is a huge statement to make and also shows you can be successful at HBCUs also,” Ingram said. “I added (Howard) because I love the way their program is trending upwards and the last few recruits they have gotten are good players. Howard also is a prestigious academic school which is important to my family and me.”

The importance of academics seems to have been at the forefront of his parents’ minds, and Ingram’s older brother, Will, a 2016 St. Mark’s graduate who played Division III basketball in Vermont, echoed those sentiments to his younger sibling. It’s easy to see how an academically prestigious program of Stanford’s credibility ended up receiving Ingram’s verbal commitment earlier this fall.

“(Will) really just emphasized how much the current school I attend, St. Mark’s, prepares you and is actually much more difficult than any college is,” Ingram added. “He thinks wherever I end up going to college I will be more than ready.”

After averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists per game for 29-4 St. Mark’s last season, Ingram feels the team’s goals and his goals should complement each other.

“We want to go back-to-back on a state championship and ultimately have an undefeated team. We are playing the toughest schedule in school history, so this should be a very fun season. Individually, I’m aiming for Texas Gatorade Player of the Year, National Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonald’s All American, to name a few.”

In the meantime, Ingram plans to enjoy the other facets of his otherwise typical teenage life, namely hanging with his friends, watching Netflix and playing board games. His remaining non-basketball time certainly will be occupied by classes at St. Mark’s, particularly AP U.S. History, A.P. Environmental Science, and—his favorite—History of Special Operations. 

“Because it is a debate-based class, which is my strength,” Ingram noted.

Not exactly a label you would find on one of the nation’s top basketball prospects.

 

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