Damien Inglis: “I’m moving to Milwaukee right after the Summer League”

Damien Inglis is comfortable with the ball in his hands. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Damien Inglis is comfortable with the ball in his hands. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

There’s something that’s been lost in the sea of hoopla that surrounded Jason Kidd’s dramatic arrival in Milwaukee.

For years, Milwaukee Bucks fans have complained about a lack of explosive, athletic wing talent with potential. Before last season, was there really a prospect Milwaukee had at the two or the three to be all that optimistic about since Michael Redd’s ascension from second round pick to NBA All-Star? Joe Alexander flamed out. Aside from him, the teams shuffled in a collection of veteran cast-offs over the years in Bobby Simmons, Richard Jefferson, John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis. Never was there a young fella to be optimistic about.

The pendulum has swung in the other direction. Hard.

Milwaukee’s core is now built around a pair of 19-year-olds — Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo – that can bounce between a variety of positions. In an increasingly positionless NBA, versatile forwards that can handle the ball, pass and shoot seem invaluable. The Bucks certainly seem to think so, as there’s a third teammate who hopes to join the two building blocks soon, literally and figuratively, in a couple of cities where being under 21 is just no fun.

“I leave on Saturday for Vegas. I’m going to Vegas to join the team,” the teenager said via a phone interview from France. “Then I’m moving to Milwaukee right after the Summer League.”

Damien Inglis won’t suit up for the Bucks in the Las Vegas Summer League. The 6’9″, 240 lb. swingman from French Guyana broke his foot in June, three weeks before the Bucks chose him with first pick of the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft, the 31st pick overall. But Inglis hopes to be healthy enough to start training and playing basketball again in about six weeks, a timetable that would have him healed long before the team’s preseason camp tips off in early October.

The road to getting drafted was a long and arduous one for the young man from Cayenne, French Guyana. Inglis, who speaks four languages (French, English, French Guyanese Creole, and Spanish), says that he picked up a basketball for the first time when he was 9 years old. Just five years later, he traveled 4400 miles and an ocean away to Paris, France to begin honing his professional craft.

Inglis entered the INSEP (Institut National du Sport et de l’Éducation Physique), a state-run secondary school and training center for elite athletes that counts Tony Parker and Boris Diaw among its former pupils. The move to the French mainland was not an easy one for him.

“I was by myself. I left French Guyana when I was 14 years old,” Inglis said. “My family was far and I had to play basketball. It was cold, it was tough. I was family-sick, homesick. But I really wanted to make it, so that’s why I kept going.”

In addition to moving halfway around the globe, he was faced with the challenge of playing against much older competition.

“When I got to Paris, I was playing against students that were older than me, so I had to take it up to another level to be at the same level as the others.”

A year ago, Inglis moved on from INSEP to the French Pro A League, the country’s top professional basketball league. There, playing for Roanne, he averaged 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while playing 15.3 minutes per contest. He shot nearly 50% from the field and connected on 39% of his three-pointers. (Note: The FIBA three-point distance used in Europe sits about halfway between the shorter distance used by the NCAA and the longer one used by the NBA.)

Inglis counts rebounding, passing, and defense — especially on-ball defense — among his strengths. He says he wants to continue to work on his shooting and offense, but if he keeps shooting as well as he did in Roanne and if he continues to penetrate, pass, and finish at the rim with either hand, he may not have so far to go in those areas either.

Inglis is also flexible when it comes to finding the right position for his skill set in the NBA.

“I don’t really have a position. My game is all-arround, you know?  Sometimes I play the 3, sometimes I play the 2. I already played the 1, but I’m not saying I’m a point guard — I’m not a point guard — but I already played 1. 4 and 5? I’ve played 4 and 5 too, for just a couple of minutes. But I’d have to say my position is the 2 or 3.”

Inglis won’t be the only player from French Guyana in the NBA this season. Washington Wizards center Kevin Seraphim, also hails from Cayenne, the capital city and home of 60,000 residents.

“It’s a small city,” Inglis said. “They like basketball, so when I got drafted, everyone was happy for me. Everybody wished me good luck. Most of them want to come to Milwaukee and watch a game and visit the city at the same time, so I think Milwaukee is going to be one of the destinations for people from French Guyana.”

Inglis also said that at the time of his drafting, he was familiar with the team. After watching the NBA for a decade, Inglis says, “Milwaukee is a team that I know.”

But the Bucks weren’t the home of Inglis’ favorite NBA player growing up. “It’s funny because we don’t play the same position, but Shaquille O’Neal was my favorite player.”

And then a reminder that Inglis is a teenager, one who was just 11 years old in 2006.

“He was my favorite player when he was in Miami.”

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20 Comments

  1. I’m irrationally excited about a 15 win team, must be summer again. I just hope that Kidd will let these guys run. Seems like this should be a great transition team 3 or 4 players should be good enough ball handlers in most of the line ups.

    • I know what ya mean…. No illusions of making the playoffs, I will be happy with 25 to 30 wins, so long as they are not getting blown out in games… Getting another lottery pick next year, along with hopefully a 2nd first rounder from a trade somehow would be beneficial to our rebuilding effort ..

  2. I’m really excited about this player. Can you imagine if he has the skills to play the 2 with his size and strength!? Then pair that with G.Antetokounmpo’s length at the 3, K.Middleton’s ability to back-up multiple positions and be a shooter/scoring threat off the bench, and J.Parker’s ability to stretch the floor or score from pretty much anywhere plus J.O’Bryant’s strength and inside touch at the 4. We just need J.Henson to put on the meat to handle major playing time at the 5 and split duties with L.Sanders; this way we have two true interior athletic defensive anchors to rely on. Lastly, B.Knight needs to continue his growth at the point position. Lots of raw talent on this team — I hope the chemistry forms quickly between these players and they’re able to grow and refine their game quickly too. Overall, I’m pretty excited for the future.

  3. Nice article. Unfortunate that he got hurt because I feel the summer league is a great way for these guys to work into NBA competition and get to know each other. Competitive, but better to build a little confidence instead of facing experienced veteran players all at once.

    This is going to be a fun ride this year. Only thing that could really upset me would be a lot of injuries that slowed everyone’s progress. Otherwise, let the games begin!

    • from what Hammond said, it was perhaps Damien’s injury that lead to him even being available in round 2… Who knows for sure, but I had read that he had a first round grade prior to the draft..

  4. I’m really excited about all of our young players, but also overwhelmed. How are we going to juggle all of these guys?
    I wonder if the Bucks should invest more heavily in the D-League — maybe getting its own team as an affiliate — so that all of our talented young players continue to get court experience in the minor leagues rather than languishing on the bench with the Bucks.

  5. how does it work currently ?? That is, where do Bucks players get sent for D-league assignments ??

    • Ft. Wayne is the Bucks affiliate. However, as more teams switch to single-team D-League affiliations, Ft. Wayne and others like it have taken on a ridiculous number of affiliations. I believe that Ft. Wayne has more NBA partner teams than it does roster spots.

      The Bucks more or less operate as if they don’t have a D-League. It will be interesting to see if Kidd/Lasry/Edens have different ideas on that topic.

      • I think it more to the fact that Milwaukee feels that the D-League doesn’t do much to develop players to their liking. Example would be Doron Lamb, the last player they’ve sent to the D-League. He was sent twice before being traded and never really made an impact that they were looking for when they drafted him. He was suppose to be a decent combo guard that could relieve pressure off of Jennings and Ellis. Never worked and they sent Harris and Lamb to the Magic. Of Course I despised the Harris trade but it happened and now puts the Bucks where they are now. Bucks seem to rather get guys they feel can contribute now rather than later. Giannis Antetokounmpo did nothing but enhance that, I think, with his show of raw talent this past season. He showed great speed, he’s a willing and effective passer and has shown that he’s explosive from just being on the floor. This draft showed that they were looking for the same result (excluding the obvious choice with the #2 pick)

        • Even if the Bucks didn’t have much need for the D-League in the past, I wonder if they would do well to invest in it now.
          Last year, John Henson was a sensation in the summer league, but in my opinion, didn’t get quality minutes in the real season (that is regular minutes, and enough minutes at his true position).

          I’m not saying that it would have been good to put John in the D-League last year, because even the uneven experience he got in the NBA was valuable. What I am saying is: What are we going to do with all these guys this season?

          By the way, I just assumed, apparently wrongly, that Damien was playing overseas this season. With or without Damien, it seems like we are teeming with players, so to speak, mostly at the two and three positions, and I’d hate to lose any of them for lack of room on the roster, or have a young guy strapped to the bench instead of developing his skills.

  6. thanks… Only bad thing for the players is that drive on 294 and 80/94 over to Indiana :)

  7. I say that we package Mayo, Henson and Ilyasova for a marquis player. They do not fit into the plans of this team as it stands right now. I realize that my position is not popular – but really, how do these guys fit into the movement and direction of this young, talented team? They don’t.

    • Henson is young and pretty talented; if he can add muscle and strength and then keep it on with a healthier diet he’s someone who the Bucks can use more as an athletic center in the future. I definitely wouldn’t give up on him at this point.

      This kind of goes back to something that J.Hammonds discussed a bit at the end of last season. He was saying that the training and development staff were working closely with J.Henson in the off-season prior to last year in order to help him get bulked-up and add the strength needed to play and handle the banging around in the front court while playing the 4 and 5 positions. Hammonds went on to say that J.Henson’s metabolism was so high that it made it difficult for him to maintain any weight gains, but more specifically he brought attention to J.Henson’s nutritional diet and eating habits saying that he (Henson) needed to do a much better job of eating “right” in order to improve his ability to gain and maintain strength. So to me it sounded as if J.Henson has some personal work to do in altering his eating habits so that he can actually build his body to effectively handle the more physical demands of playing in the front court and to play there for more minutes per game than he could last year.

      As far as OJ.Mayo is concerned I think if he comes back this year in tip-top physical shape and doesn’t falter back into whatever bad habits led to him looking like absolute shit last year physically then his age (26) still fits with youth movement of the team. He has proven he can be a decent scoring threat in the league in the past so he could still be viewed as a nice scoring punch off the bench going forward or possibly as our starting SG. He’s another player I’m not ready to give-up on unless he gives the team and us fans a reason to when training camp comes around.

      E.Ilyasova is another case all together. Despite being a personal favorite player of mine I think the Bucks are in a position where they kind of have to move on from him because of all the added depth at the forward position; though, before doing so I think the team is hopeful he’s able to fully recover from his ankle injury this off-season in order to trade him sometime during the 1st half of the season when he’s been able to improve his value. As for age though even Ilyasova isn’t really “old” by any means — he’s only 27 years old which means he’s still in his prime now and will be for the next couple years.

    • Your position isn’t popular? I’d love to package those 3 for a marquee player but it’s not enough

  8. I think this is good stuff, L.

    I’m hoping that John Henson gets stronger in a way that is consistent with his body type and allows him to keep agility and leaping ability — maybe along the lines of a Kevin Garnett or an Anthony Davis.

    If the Bucks don’t do this already, it might be good for them to really educate their players about nutrition, and even help them to find ways to eat well, including possibly personal chefs (who could perhaps cook for two or more players).

    Finally, I think a big thing regarding Ers and O.J. is whether they have a good attitude about being complementary players and not getting all of the shots that they might want, nor all the minutes. It seems that O.J. might be especially valuable if he’s able to knock down threes for the Bucks, while being somewhat restrained as to how often he shoots.

    • I keep hearing that Phoenix and Indiana are potential trade partners….and the names that keep popping up on the Bucks are Ilyasova, Henson, Mayo and Sanders. The names I keep hearing from the other side? Bledsoe and Hibbert.

    • I felt like Henson actually regressed last year. the opposite of what should happen for a player, he looked great in the summer league showing a jumpshot and blocking shots but last year I just saw him getting pushed around and giving a half ass effort protecting the rim. I once viewed him as a steal pick at 15 and a future strong starting player, now I’m not sure if he is even a backup, maybe he just didn’t care but I saw zero intensity from the guy all year.

  9. I think most of us want to see Ilysova on a bus out of town. There is no point in giving him minutes only to take away minutes from Parker, Giannis, Ingles or Johnny O’Bryant. We would be better served going with a full youth movement and trying to build something special. In my opinion we all need to suffer another miserable win/loss year and let our young guys figure out their NBA games. One more top 3 type of draft pick and then I think things can start to get better in the wins department.

    • I agree. However, I believe if they find another decent player or two and ship Ilyasova and Mayo elsewhere – the Bucks could actually be a 35-47 team. Still possibly bad enough for a top 12 pick. Maybe some desperate team will even take both Ilyasova and Mayo for a First Round pick in next year’s draft, giving us two picks in next year’s First Round. I think this team will get along much better than last year’s squad. I just hope that Sanders can keep his head and learn to be nice to his fellow team members.

      I am sorry for being negative on these posts about Ilyasova. I once liked him a lot, but lost respect for him last year when he demanded to be traded after Milwaukee went out on a limb for the guy to keep him here.