Many NBA basketball players get noticed while playing college ball in the U.S., but some get their start in a less-conventional way. The Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles took the latter of these two routes.
Ingles is one of 12 players currently playing in the NBA who are from Australia, which has a burgeoning basketball community. When Ingles was young, he wanted to play basketball for the Australian Boomers (the national team) and the Adelaide 36ers, which was the team near where he grew up in a suburb of Adelaide. Following his high school career, he played basketball for the Australian Institute of Sport as well as Lake Ginninderra College, both in Canberra, Australia.
After college, Ingles entered the National Basketball League playing for the South Dragons in Melbourne. In his debut game, Ingles scored 29 points, which was the most points a player had scored in their debut game in the NBL at the time. He earned the NBL Rookie of the Year award for his spectacular first season with the South Dragons. During the season, he averaged 15.3 points per game, 3 assists and 4.9 rebounds.
He played for the South Dragons until the end of the 2008-09 season, when the South Dragons won the NBL championship. He declared for the NBA draft in 2009 but went undrafted to any team. He then played for CB Granada in Spain from 2009 to 2010, and then for FC Barcelona from 2010 to 2013, where his time overlapped with current Jazz teammate Ricky Rubio. He then played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel from 2013 to 2014. The team won the EuroLeague championship that year. During his time in Europe, Ingles averaged 6.9 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, and 1.9 assists per game.
In 2014, Ingles played for the L.A. Clippers during pre-season but was acquired by the Utah Jazz on October 27, 2014. He’s been with the Jazz ever since. In his NBA career, he’s played over 375 games, averaging 24.2 minutes per game and has started over 192 games. He’s averaged 3.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game so far.
However, the Jazz isn’t the only team that benefits from Ingles’ steady playing. Ingles reached his childhood goal and currently represents the Australian national team (the Boomers), which he’s played for since 2008. He played in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics for Australia and was also a member of the 2012 and 2016 teams. He’s also played in the FIBA World Cup and FIBA Oceania games. He was on the FIBA Oceania Championship team for 2011 and 2013. In 2009, he received the Gaze Medal, which is given to the Australian International Player of the Year. He received the award on account of his efforts in the 2008 Olympics.
While Ingles’ career has taken twists and turns, he’s now played nearly five seasons with the Utah Jazz and is an example of the quality of players that his home country of Australia can produce. While the Australia National Basketball League isn’t as widespread as the NBA, the league has eight teams. In addition to that, the country boasts many talented players that play for American colleges or the NBA itself. The NCAA currently has over 180 players that come from Australia and play in all divisions. Saint Mary’s, which was nationally ranked during the 2017-18 season, boasted six players from Australia that season. Other notable NBA players from Australia include Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), and Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs).
While Ingles’ journey from Australia to the Jazz has been full of international play, his route to the NBA also shows his dedication to the sport, which he shows every time he steps onto the court. His playing and career shouldn’t only make Jazz fans proud, but also his fans in Australia.