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Wildcats shocked by Ingram Departure

The Perth Wildcats have been left shell-shocked with the sudden departure of newly arrived import Andre Ingram on top of injuries to Damian Martin and Jarrod Kenny. The Wildcats made the decision last Monday to part company with Jaron Johnson three games into the season and replaced him with NBA D-League sharpshooter Ingram. The 30-year-old made a solid start to his NBL career nailing five three-pointers in wins over the Illawarra Hawks and Melbourne United on the weekend. He caught up with NBL Media after practice on Tuesday and appeared in good spirits discussing how he has fitted in with the Wildcats, his role for the rest of the season as well as discussing the Perth lifestyle and even his famous grandmother's fame as a Gospel singer. But later on Tuesday afternoon he sat down with Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson and his assistants to inform them that he had some mental scars that had opened up from being away from home, and wanted to immediately return to Virginia. The Wildcats allowed him to sleep on it but things hadn’t changed this morning and as a result Ingram and the club have parted ways. It certainly caught Gleeson right off guard and he was still in shock discussing it on Wednesday afternoon. "We got a message yesterday after practice that he wanted to sit down and talk. I really thought it was about the game but it surprised me big time and that was at about 3 o'clock," Gleeson said. "He said he wanted to return home and we did a little bit of digging about why and he said he was missing his family, and that it wasn’t for him to play overseas. There was then also mental issues from the past that had risen again. "We had a good chat and decided to sleep on it to make sure it was something he wanted to do. We told him we didn’t want him to go but he was pretty adamant that he wanted to leave as soon as possible. He's not in a good place at the moment and you have to take him on his word for that." The news of Ingram asking to be released less than a week after arriving in Perth couldn’t have come at a worse time for the 'Cats with captain Martin (jaw) and fellow point guard Jarrod Kenny (groin) to miss up to a month respectively. Martin, Kenny and Ingram virtually shared the guard roles last weekend along with Dexter Kernich-Drew against the Hawks and United but only the latter will be there Friday night in Wollongong against Illawarra. The Wildcats have signed up Jackson Hussey fresh off graduating college and a standout WA SBL season with the Geraldton Buccaneers. Development player Corban Wroe will step up to start as point guard with ball handling duties likely to fall to him, Kernich-Drew and Casey Prather. But any decision on a replacement import won't happen this week. "We just had to listen to his (Ingram's) wishes and make that call even though it puts us in an incredible hole with our guards and now an import out. I've never experienced anything like this in my 20 years of coaching. It's a tough bind but these things only make you stronger," he said. "Damo's surgery went well and it was a little bit more of a break than we first anticipated, but the plate went well and was inserted properly. Typical Damo wants to play next week but settle down. But we'll evaluate where we are in terms of another import. "This is still pretty raw. The only light out of this is that the NBA made cuts yesterday to trim their rosters to 15. "We will have a look at that at that over the next 24 hours but there won't be anything imminent with that. It's going to take us a little bit of work to do our research and make sure we get the right person." Hussey is no stranger to the Wildcats having spent time training with the club when back from college. The 24-year-old graduated from Pikeville College earlier this season before signing with Geraldton in the SBL. He was tremendous as the team's point guard under the coaching of Aaron Trahair averaging 20.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game in a team that lost in the semi finals to eventual champions the Cockburn Cougars. That included a 39-point breakout performance in a road quarter-final win in Rockingham. Then in a pre-season game for the Buccaneers against the Wildcats, he impressed and that left an impression on Gleeson who is now happy to bring the tenacious guard on board. "We have signed Jackson Hussey who is going to come in on a short-term contract while Jarrod Kenny and Damo are out," he said. "He scorched us in the last quarter of a pre-season game and he has come in and worked hard the last couple of days. I like his attitude and he's got that little bit of toughness about him and he won't back down which is what we need." There is a chance the Wildcats could bring back Johnson who is still in Perth. Under NBL rules a player who is removed from the team roster may not return to that same club roster in the same season, unless he is replacing a player who has suffered a season ending injury or illness, which Ingram is. "That's something we will look at. We don't know yet where we are with that but we always said Jaron was a great guy," Gleeson said. "He trained with us today but he has been doing that all the time. We will just see how that plays out. The guys love him so that's part of being a professional too but we'll see how it goes."
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