All in the Kinston Family
Jerry Stackhouse Weighs in on Ingram and Bullock
In what’s been a very difficult stretch of games for the Lakers, there’s been a clear silver lining especially since the All-Star break: the play of Brandon Ingram.
In the last six games, Ingram is averaging 27.8 points on 57.0 percent field goals and 52.9 percent from three, plus 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
One of the stops along Ingram’s recent hot stretch was Memphis, where former NBA standout Jerry Stackhouse is an assistant coach. As we detailed last season, Stack has known Ingram since he was in fourth grade, and serves as a mentor – and basically, an uncle – to this day.
Of course, Ingram isn’t the only kid from Kinston who grew up under the watch of Stackhouse and currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, since Reggie Bullock came over from the Pistons at the trade deadline. Ingram won four state titles at Kinston, and Bullock two.
We caught up with Stackhouse to talk about his two young fellas:
MT: We spent some time discussing how you first became aware of and starting working with Brandon Ingram last year in Toronto, but how about Reggie Bullock?
Stackhouse: He was a part of a group of kids there that I’d reach back to, and sponsor them with uniforms and different things like that, and Reggie was one of the kids. Him and my nephew that played on the team, I used to take them to the beach. I have pictures of Reggie when he was a little boy sitting out on the front of the boat fishing and things like that. I ain’t even embarrassed him with all that stuff yet, but I will one day. It’s just cool to see him on the basketball court competing and he always had the ability to shoot the basketball. I think he got more confidence in doing other things on the floor. Obviously, he followed in my footsteps going to North Carolina, and I was able to really stay close to him from that standpoint, and helped him with his situation coming out of college as far as agents and everything like that. It wasn’t the easiest road for him. But he continued to just grind it out, and worked his way to becoming a great shooter that was sought after, and I think he’s a great fit for what (the Lakers) are trying to do.
MT: When Brandon was being asked a lot about the trade rumors and everything, he said that what he went through growing up in Kinston has made him have a whole different perspective. Can you speak to that?
Stackhouse: When you see a lot of different things that these kids, even more so than when I went through … it’s a tough town, for sure, but it wasn’t as bad as it was in the area where they came in. They really have to go in the gym. It’s a refuge for them. And the friends that they have, they grow up around, the things they’re involved in and gangs and different things, we didn’t deal with that at the level that they did. It was tough for him. He’s speaking truth that dealing with trade rumors, yeah it’s tough and they’re young kids, they’re human, they don’t like the negativity of it but at the same time, the refuge is being on the floor playing. That’s where he looks at it, and he’s played very well. I probably worry about it more than he did, calling him. He’s just like, ‘Same way, Unc, I’m good.’ Just continue to work on what you can control and that’s what he’s been doing.
MT: Kinston is a small town of 20,000 people, who has two players starting for the Lakers, and you had a 17-year career, averaging 17 points per game and making the All-Star team twice. The high school wins championships all the time in a basketball crazy state. What is it about Kinston? Stackhouse: It’s just the talent there and the teaching (of it). There’s always giving back from the standpoint of playing against older guys in the community. They’re looking to try to help you get better. You get this from a random guy in the gym who may not have went to college, but he can hoop. That toughness, and going to the park and playing and competing, looking for games. Brandon and Reggie were the same way, even though they were years behind the time we were doing it, we came back and it all looked the same. They were still trying to get in the gym and hoop, no matter what. That’s what you gotta do. You gotta play. The talent is there, and if you continue to work on it, like Brandon and Reggie have done.
MT: Your thoughts on Ingram’s progress relative to expectations?
Stackhouse: Look at Brandon’s numbers and compare them to anybody at his age and what he’s doing, I think he’s right on par with where he needs to be. Just continue to progress and get better and he’ll be fine. He wants to be great. There’s no doubt. He wants to be mentioned as one of those (guys), and he has the work ethic to go out and (do it) … he’s a standout. The numbers speak for themselves. When he’s been able to be a playmaker and facilitated for the team, it has boded well for him and his production. At the end of the day it’s a team game, but when you get down to the Finals, you need multiple people can make plays.