Since John Dunne was hired as Marist head coach in April of 2018, the men’s basketball team has had one or more international players on the roster each year. Players from Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Nigeria, and beyond.
This year, that player is Canada-native Stephane Ingo.
Hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, Ingo began his basketball career in middle school. He was a two-sport athlete, playing basketball and volleyball in high school while attending École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, a small catholic school in his hometown.
Of course, the competition was not a level Division I coaches may be scouting or recruiting at. Thus, Ingo began a search for a prep school. He found his spot and transferred to Gould Academy, a boarding school in Bethel, Maine. He averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks with 50 percent shooting in his post-grad season.
“From any given night there were a couple Division I players on each team. It helped me understand what it takes to play at a Division I level,” Ingo said. Being it was his first time away from home, that experience prepared Ingo for college life and the freedom it brings.
Ingo played with two teammates at Gould who committed to play Division I, forward Wildens Leveque and point guard Boo Buie. Leveque played at the University of South Carolina for three seasons and transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst this year.
Buie has recently caught headlines in his fourth season for Northwestern basketball. The all-conference player led his team to a March Madness win against Boise State with 22 points and five assists, the second time in school history they had done so.
“We had a good nucleus, a good trio,” Ingo said.
Off the court, Ingo enjoys nature from his time in Maine and listening to music. Basketball started off as a hobby, simply to have fun with friends. In middle school, that fun turned competitive when Ingo joined an AAU team, starting a serious path to college hoops dreams during high school.
“I think my favorite memory was Las Vegas in the summer. I think being that far on the other side of the country. Being East Coast guys, we had a lot of fun,” said Ingo when talking about his time playing AAU basketball.
On the court, Ingo carries a large impact on the defensive end, using his length and athleticism at 6-foot-9 to thwart opposing offenses. A graduate transfer from the University of Maine, Ingo was the team’s leading shot blocker each of the past three seasons. He blocked a shot in 19 straight games between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Ingo also led Maine in rebounding in the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
“You can’t win if you’re too low energy. Steph brings a high energy to the defensive end. He’s a good shot blocker. He gets deflections. He’s a smart, active defender and he’s very efficient on the offensive glass,” said Dunne.
Ingo looks to model his game from NBA players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Anthony Davis, and Pascal Siakam. “I like bigs who can switch onto guards and block a lot of shots, having that versatility guarding one through five and being able to impact the game outside of scoring,” said Ingo.
After the 2021 season, the Marist coaching staff had many roster holes to fill with numerous players entering the transfer portal. Finding bigs to contribute right away was of top priority.
“I watch a lot of regional games. I had seen him play, I knew he was extremely athletic. I had heard great things about him as a person and we knew he was a serious student,” said Dunne.
Ingo being known as a good student comes from his parents who prioritized education over everything. “That really helped me with basketball once I got into the recruiting process because of my good academics,” said Ingo.
This season, the Marist team traveled to London in the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase. Marist played Ingo’s former squad, the University of Maine Black Bears.
“That was one of the games I’ll never forget. It felt like practice again, like scrimmaging with those guys. It was like worlds colliding. It was my first time in Europe and a memory I will never forget,” Ingo said.
Marist came away with a one-point win in the showcase after being down six with under three minutes to play.
Ingo is one of three seniors on the Marist roster and led by example to his younger teammates what it takes to play Division I basketball. The center was also a captain for two years at Maine.
“I can count on Stephane to have great maturity on a daily basis. Every drill, every film session. He can not participate in walkthroughs and still pick up what we are trying to teach because he’s so laser focused,” said Dunne.
This year’s Marist team was young as five of the nine-man rotation were underclassmen.
Bringing lots of experience, Ingo wanted to teach the young guys how to adapt moving from high school to Division I. “Younger guys coming out of high school, they were probably ball dominant or the main scoring option. Understanding at the next level is having to find a role, and within that role star in it,” said Ingo.
In addition to finding a role, the senior emphasized the importance of persistent focus that is required during a season.
“Understanding that it’s a long season and you have to stay ready, stay focused,” said Ingo. “Through the ups and downs, you can’t get too high or too low. Also understanding what’s your game and what can you contribute? Only one to two guys will have the green light to do what they want. The rest must fill in and contribute in other ways than scoring.”
Ingo is a star in his role, ranking second on the team in rebounding and first in blocks while playing only 16 minutes per game.
While at Maine, Ingo faced similar obstacles since coming to Marist.
“I think every year we were one of those teams with a lot of roster turnover,” said Ingo. “Every year you were catching up trying to learn each other’s style of play.”
This year’s Marist squad had four players return from the previous year and certainly faced these obstacles throughout the season. The nature of the transfer portal is a double-edged sword for programs. A team can lose their roster, but also can build one from scratch utilizing the portal.
Ingo and fellow senior Patrick Gardner transferred in and started in 30-plus games this season. Both players were integral to the Red Foxes’ run to the MAAC Championship game, the first time Marist has advanced to the final in program history.
Appearing in 32 games, starting in 31 this season for the Red Foxes, Ingo averaged 3.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 16 minutes per game. He had six or more rebounds in 10 games this season while tallying a block in 18 games and multiple blocks in 10 games.
“There’s a saying in coaching, it’s not just the will to win but the will to prepare to win. And he is a great leader by example,” said Dunne.
Edited by Dan Aulbach and Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Marist Athletics