Dec. 8, 2004
By Scott MacDonald – In February 2004, two athletes states apart suffered the same fate on the basketball court, torn Anterior Cruciate Ligaments, or better known as ACL injuries. Kentrina Wilson was in the midst of her freshman campaign at Georgia Tech, while Jillian Ingram was a senior at Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C.
Wilson was in practice when the unfortunate injury occurred. “Coach just got done yelling at me, telling me I have to go harder,” said Wilson. “I caught the ball, drove to the basket with nobody around me, jump stopped and my knee just gave out on me.”
Ingram, having a tremendous season at Providence Day School, endured the same injury as Wilson almost in the same exact manner.
“It was during a game,” said Ingram. “I went up for a power layup, jump stopped and it [knee] just gave out. Parts of my ACL and MCL [Medial Collateral Ligament].”
Wilson was playing in every game for the Yellow Jackets during her freshman campaign, before the injury. The 6’1″ sophomore started in three Atlantic Coast Conference games, averaging nine points and six rebounds in those contests. She tallied a career-best 13 points and nine boards against Clemson on Jan. 18, 2004.
“I just broke down,” said Wilson on the thought of not playing. “I’ve never been injured, sprains or anything. I didn’t know what to do.”
“I was really impressed with the way Trina [Kentrina Wilson] handled everything,” said head women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph. “She came back like she was never hurt. You always hope that somebody comes back from an injury, but she came back better.”
Approximately 244 miles away, in Charlotte, N.C., Ingram was halfway through her senior season in high school. She surpassed 1,000 points during her sophomore season and led Providence Day School to a state title in 2001. Ingram was pouring in 15 points per game and dishing out five assists per contest before encountering her second knee injury in five years.
“Having the injury before, I knew what was ahead of me,” said Ingram.
Ahead of both of them was surgery and severe rehabilitation. Both of them began rehab shortly after surgery, conducted in March, and began the long trip back to the flats.
“It takes a huge commitment to come back from an injury like that,” said Joseph. “You have to do a lot of extra things, besides practicing and lifting weights with the team and attending class.”
Ingram began her rehab in Charlotte and joined up with Wilson at Georgia Tech in the summer. They provided support for one another, along with advice.
“It’s not a good thing that two people were hurt,” said Wilson. “But it was nice to have somebody to work on the same things. Just for motivation. I didn’t know what to expect since it was my first injury, and because it was her second one, I got a little bit of advice from her about what I should do.”
Both of them continue rehab today. For the most part, they are back to where they started nine months ago.
“I don’t worry about it now,” said Wilson. “I mean I think it’s made me better because I’ve come back a better shooter and better ball handler. I still need to work on my defense and lateral movement, but other than my overall quickness, it [the injury] hasn’t really affected me.”
Wilson and Ingram have the Jackets off to a 5-0 start this season, including wins over in-state rival Georgia State, 72-30, Old Dominion, 74-61, and Tech’s archrival, sixth-ranked Georgia, 55-49.
Ingram has been the starting point guard and is scoring 9.0 points per game and has 12 assists. Wilson has been a major contributor off the bench including a big bucket against ODU in the waning minutes to secure a 13-point win.
“Jill is our point guard and everything runs through her,” said Joseph. Without her play, we wouldn’t be 5-0. Trina is the most unselfish player on our team. She can play all the positions on the floor. Her play in the final five minutes of the Old Dominion game helped us seal that win.”