Donte Ingram received a phone call from his mother at school with a message he had been waiting weeks to hear.
“Good luck at your game,” she said.
The Simeon junior guard, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Danville, was ruled eligible by the Illinois High School Association on Tuesday after missing seven games with the Wolverines because of residency issues. He returned to the court for Simeon’s 93-32 victory against Urban Prep West in the first round of the Chicago Public League tournament, totaling three points, six rebounds and two assists.
“I was down (after the ruling), but I was just praying I would get back as soon as possible,” Ingram said. “It felt good. I’m still out of rhythm, but I’m going to go hard at practice so I’ll get back to it.”
Ingram had been declared ineligible by the IHSA on Jan. 15. Ingram’s father, Donald Ingram, said in early January that he was in the process of moving his family from Danville to Chicago because of safety concerns and that Ingram temporarily resided with a guardian. A source told the Tribune the person Ingram resided with had not established legal guardianship.
The IHSA said on Tuesday that Donald Ingram had established residency and received custody of his son.
Simeon coach Robert Smith said that another ineligible transfer, junior Jaycee Hillsman, also has submitted paperwork to Chicago Public Schools and the IHSA to regain his eligibility after he was ruled out by CPS because of residency issues. Smith said he wasn't sure about the status of the paperwork for a third ineligible transfer, senior Sean Moore.
“It put a smile on my face earlier today when they ruled him eligible,” Smith said. “To see them come every day and work hard in practice was saddening for me. Hopefully all three will be eligible before we get done with the city and state.”
Ingram had become an important reserve and outside shooting threat for Simeon before being declared ineligible. He practiced and traveled with the team while out, but Smith said it might take a couple of games for him to return to form. His three points Tuesday came on free throws after he was fouled on a 3-pointer.
“He struggled a little bit today,” Smith said. “He rebounded and he hustled, so that’s what we’re looking for, but his shot wasn’t on. It’s different between practice and a game. We’re happy we got him back early enough to play in a game like this.”
Mike Helfgot contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, RedEye