PERTH Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson says "mental issues from the past" were behind the sudden exit of Andre Ingram, which has deepened the club's guards crisis.
It comes as the Cats confirmed the signing of local guard Jackson Hussey to help fill the void left by Ingram, Damian Martin (fractured jaw) and Jarrod Kenny (groin) ahead of Friday’s road clash with Illawarra.
And Perth has not yet ruled out approaching axed import Jaron Johnson to bolster the depleted backcourt, with the American training with the main group on Wednesday morning.
Gleeson said he was first made aware of Ingram’s concerns on Tuesday afternoon, less than six days after the import had arrived in the country to replace Johnson.
“It surprised me big time,” Gleeson said.
“He said it was nothing to do with the team - I thought it might have been to do with his family.
“We offered to bring his family over. But he said it just wasn’t for him to play overseas.
“We did a bit more digging, and there were some mental issues from the past that have risen again.”
After sleeping on the decision, Ingram confirmed on Wednesday morning that he wanted out.
“He’s not in a good place at the moment, and we’ve got to take him at his word for that,” Gleeson said.
“There’s some issues there that he didn’t really want to broach with me. But he didn’t feel right.”
Gleeson said he was confident the club had done its due diligence in scouting 31-year-old Ingram, who has played in the US for all of his professional career.
The club met with the import on multiple occasions and used intel from former coach Conner Henry and former assistant Paul Woolpert, who both had involvement with Ingram in the US.
“We did a lot of research, even in the two weeks before we got him here, that he was the right guy,” Gleeson said.
“Everything had the boxes ticked.
“He probably kept to himself a little bit (upon arriving)... but I just thought that was a mature athlete looking after his body and wanting to stretch by himself.
“He’s more of an introvert than an extrovert. I thought that was a bit of his personality, but maybe there was something deeper than that.”
INJURY CRISIS: Setbacks for Wildcats point guards Damian Martin and Jarrod Kenny
Gleeson told reporters on Wednesday afternoon the club was still weighing up its options with regard to a potential recall for Johnson.
“That’s something we’ll go down… we don’t know yet where we are with that,” Gleeson said.
“We’ll have to cover that area sometime, but right now that’s not a priority for us.
“He trained with us today, but he’s been training with us for all the time (since being cut). We’ll see how that plays out.”
Johnson was released only last week after failing to fit with the team, but his availability and knowledge of the side’s set-up could prove valuable.
Hire said he was confident the Cats could still perform strongly against Illawarra despite the guard shortage.
“In terms of backs against the wall and what this situation holds, it’s unlike any other,” he said.
“For us, it really brings our group together. We had a really good session. Whenever the chips are down, we have guys stepping up.”
Wildcats vice-captain Greg Hire said Ingram had participated in a weights session with the team Wednesday morning before Gleeson broke the news to the playing group.
“It’s definitely quite a shock,” he said.
“The past couple of weeks have been unusual circumstances.
“But obviously we’re very respectful of Andre and his situation right now, and the least we can do is be as supportive as we can.
“We weren’t briefed on the path or background (of his mental health issues). But I think that reaffirms how tough it really is... And how mental health issues can hit anyone at any time.”
Hussey averaged 20 points and five assists per game for Geraldton in the SBL last season, and impressed with a 20-point display against the Wildcats in a pre-season game last month.
Hussey will join development player Corban Wroe on the roster for Friday’s game.