The drill looks exactly like it’s supposed to look — like it’s coming out of a textbook.
The young girl holding the ball at the top of the key makes a couple moves to get by the stationery defender, then collects herself. She then rises up from her legs and fires a right-handed, high-arcing shot into the humid outdoors air.
Splash. Nothing but the bottom of the net.
The next time? Same result.
This time, the ball hits the front of the rim before softly falling through the hoop.
It’s athletic poetry. It’s the byproduct of hard work, determination and relentless effort to one’s craft.
Oh yeah, and the young girl performing the magic is just 9-years-old.
Raceland native Imerii “Immi" Ingram is turning heads this summer with her strong play on the AAU circuit, posting several strong showings for BST.
For her efforts, Ingram recently was selected to represent Team USA at the United World Games in Austria in 2022 — an honor that she, her father and her coach all say is a testament to her dedication to the sport she loves.
Immi is the daughter of Carlton Ingram and Ava Lazard.
“I don’t have to make her come out here or anything. She does everything on her own,” said Carlton Ingram. “She loves to play. She loves to compete. That’s just how she’s always been.”
Immi plays at a skill level beyond her young age today, but she’s still relatively new to the sport.
She said she first started playing 3 years ago when she was 6, and her father said it hasn’t always come easy.
“No,” Carlton Ingram says with a laugh when asked if Immi has always been a gifted player. “At first, she was shy. She was timid. It didn’t take her long, but it didn’t come easy for her.”
“She was raw,” coach Kenny Lacy said of Immi’s first days on the floor. “But I saw she had natural talent and she’s just a natural athlete. She’s just one of those kids that if you put her in any situation in any sport, she will adapt and just figure it out. She’s an athlete.”
She’s an athlete with a work ethic, too.
Immi loves to play basketball. You could see the joy in her face throughout drills and the carefree, playful attitude she has while putting in the work.
When interviewed, she’s shy. When doing drills, she’s often smiling and laughing. But Lacy said that when between the white lines with the ball in play, Immi shifts into a whole different gear and becomes one of the most relentless competitors he’s ever seen at this age.
“When she’s locked in, she’s locked in,” Lacy said. “No playing. All business. That makes it a joy for me as a coach. When you’ve got somebody who wants to work, it makes you want to coach harder and work harder to push her to keep going.”
Immi's skill lies in her ball handling. She can control the ball and get to her spot on the floor easily while keeping her eyes up the floor and to her teammates.
Lacy said the young guard is a natural leader and an elite passer because of that ball handling and vision. But he quickly adds that she can score, when needed.
Immi said she does not have a preference to how she affects a game — just so long as she’s helping her team.
“I like to score and pass both,” she said.
And soon, she will be scoring and passing for the red, white and blue.
To get the shot to represent Team USA, Immi had to show off her talents on the floor.
Lacy said the opportunity to compete in the United World Games came from Mark Davis, a Thibodaux native and former NBA player. He told Lacy of the opportunity, and he passed it on to all of his players.
From there, they had to do a short interview and submit tape.
“They just fell in love with her,” Carlton Ingram said of his daughter’s selection.
When asked where Austria was, Immi said she knew it was far away, but wasn’t exactly sure how far.
She said she was excited for the chance to play and compete.
“I think it will be great,” she said with a smile when asked about the opportunity.
For Dad and Coach, they said it’s an honor hard to measure.
“It’s just amazing,” Carlton Ingram said. “We’re so proud of her. We can’t wait.”
“Not many kids — not just her age, but any age — get that chance,” Lacy said. “I’ve been playing ball all of my life and I’ve been coaching for years and I've never been overseas. For a 10-year-old to get to go showcase her talent, it will just do tremendous things for her future.”
And about that future, Immi said she wants to play as long as she can.
Her coach thinks that will be a career that will last a long, long time.
“D-1 college ball — easy,” Lacy said. “By the time she’s in 7th or 8th grade, she will be able to play on high school teams. The sky is the limit for her.”