Dazon Ingram: UCF is the 'best fit' for me
Dazon Ingram was an offensive superstar in high school.
Playing at Theodore High School near Mobile, Ala., Ingram earned a reputation as a prolific scorer. He averaged 21 points as a senior with 19 double-doubles and two triple doubles on his way to receiving the state's top honor as Mr. Alabama Basketball.
Now he's ready to show off that ability at UCF.
On Wednesday, the former University of Alabama point guard announced his intent to enroll as a graduate transfer for his final season of collegiate eligibility. He'll be expected to be a major contributor with B.J. Taylor graduating and the unexpected departure of Terrell Allen, who is transferring to Georgetown.
"My mom and I talked about it, prayed about it and came to a conclusion that UCF was the right fit," Ingram said. "They know my situation. Some of the staff actually recruited me coming out of high school. They know what I'm capable of. I wasn't able to fully expose that at Alabama. I feel like I'm going to be a great fit in Coach (Johnny) Dawkins' system and I can do the things he wants to get accomplished."
Ingram visited UCF this past weekend. He says he felt an instant bond with Dawkins and also enjoyed a renewed connection with assistant coach Kevin Norris, who had recruited him several years ago when he was on staff at USC. He also spent time with Collin Smith.
"When you're in high school and go on a visit, you want to see what the campus is like, the students and just hang out with the team, let them take you out at night," Ingram said. "Now that I'm older and more mature, I wanted to connect with the coaches. I wanted to get a good vibe from them, which I did. Right now, it's more like business for me. I'm trying to go to the next level. I'll have just one year here and I plan to make the most of it."
Ingram, who is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, saw an immediate impact for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman, starting the first seven games before suffering a season-ending injury.
As a redshirt freshman in 2016-17, Ingram was named Alabama's "Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year" as the team leader in assists (3.3 apg), steals (0.9 spg) and three-point field goal percentage (.429) and was second in scoring (10.6 ppg).
During his redshirt sophomore season in 2017-18, Ingram continued with a primary role, starting in 33 of 35 games and averaging 9.7 points a game. Much of the offense that year went through Collin Sexton, who averaged 19.2 points during his one year before declaring for the NBA Draft.
This past season, Ingram started in 19 of the 32 games he played, averaging 7.1 points in what turned out to be an up-and-down year for the Tide. Head coach Avery Johnson was fired at season's end.
Ingram believes he'll benefit by the change of scenery and a new system. While he had a solid run at Alabama with 83 starts, the feeling is that his full potential has yet to be realized.
"When UCF first called me, they talked about how much they loved my game," Ingram said. "They thought I'd really fit their system. During the visit, they were showing what they can do with me. Coach Dawkins showed me film of guards that he's had in the past and how he lets them play. You can play without having to look over your shoulder. He'll trust you to play free. That's how I want to play. I really believed in what they were saying. I was like yeah, this is the school for me. I know it's going to be hard for me to learn another system, but I really trust them."
"I can go out there and show everything that I have," Ingram said. "I can just fully expose it now. Everyone knows I have the vision. I'm able to knock down open threes. Now I can just go out there and show everyone that I can make plays, not just for myself but for my teammates as well."
Ingram also takes pride in being a solid defender.
"I'm versatile," he said. "I've played one through five. When playing guard, I'm usually playing against bigs. I usually defend the other team's best player."
He called Dawkins and Norris on Tuesday, informing them of his decision.
"I'm going to go in there ready to work," Ingram said. "I'm willing to do that. I want to be a leader. I want to win a conference championship and bring UCF back to the NCAA Tournament. Not just get there, but make a run. Individually, I want to be the best player I can be. I want to be first team all-conference and the conference player of the year."