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Brandon Ingram ready to join Lakers' rebuilding process

Brandon Ingram ready to join Lakers' rebuilding process
Brandon Ingram walks off stage after being selected as the second pick overall by the Lakers during the 2016 NBA draft. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

What have the Lakers done?

Their first-round draft pick likes to quote Mike Krzyzewski, talks fondly of fishing with his grandmother while growing up in North Carolina, and, in his down time, loves to sketch with shading pencils and charcoal.

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In other words, Brandon Ingram fits perfectly with Lakers Coach Luke Walton's desire to assemble a roster of players with character.

And, indeed, the small forward can play.

All he did in college was generate one of the best seasons ever for a young player at Duke, ranking among the school's all-time freshman leaders in scoring (third), three-pointers (second) and 20-point games (tied for second).

It was a no-brainer for the Lakers to take Ingram with the second overall pick Thursday after Philadelphia drafted Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons with the top pick at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

"We got the player I wanted in the draft. I don't know if he's the best or not, but we got the player I wanted, for sure," Walton said. "What he has the potential of doing and what he can already do at his age with his length and skill set is very impressive and unique."

The Lakers selected Croatian center Ivica Zubac with their second-round pick, 32nd overall.

Ingram, 18, averaged 17.3 points at Duke, displayed tenacity on defense despite a slender build and also showed good ballhandling skills while becoming the ACC freshman of the year.

Yeah, about that build.

Ingram is pencil thin, standing 6 feet 9 and weighing only 190 pounds. He says he's eating six meals a day totaling 5,000 calories.

"It's just something that's going to come naturally," he said. "I'm only 18."

Ingram's rookie contract will total up to four years and $23.8 million, including  $5.3 million in his first season.

Walton wants to adopt much of what the Golden State Warriors ran on offense during his two years there as an assistant coach. That is fine with Ingram, who shot extremely well at Duke, making 80 three-pointers on 41% accuracy behind the arc.

"Of course, everyone wants to play like the Golden State Warriors," he said. "Seeing [Walton] coach those guys and just with the young guys that we have, the shooting ability and the passing ability for D'Angelo Russell and the different things that the Lakers do, I think it's a good fit for me."

Ingram said he learned how to be a much more vocal leader while playing for Krzyzewski and also quoted his former coach Thursday by saying, "You're always becoming; you've never arrived."

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Ingram realizes he isn't joining the Showtime Lakers. Or the Shaq-Kobe teams. Or even the Kobe-Pau teams.

The Lakers have won 38 games over the last two seasons.

"I know they're in a rebuilding stage," he said. "I know they have a lot of young guys that are self-driven and very talented. I just know that I'm going to have to work very hard."

Work ethic isn't a problem for Ingram.

After a rare conference loss at Goldsboro (N.C.) High, he worked on his shot for a couple of hours after the bus arrived back at Kinston High. He wasn't happy with his game.

His high school team was sometimes good enough to hit the 40-point mercy rule, at which point a running game clock was employed.

The mercy rule went into effect in the second quarter on one particular night and Ingram immediately stopped scoring after that, uninterested in racking up individual stats, his high school coach recalled.

"He wasn't a record-chaser. He wasn't ego-driven," Perry Tyndall said. "He was a true, true teammate that just wanted success for his team."

He's also going to get a steak dinner, per Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak's insistence.

"We're going to have to do another dinner at Fleming's to celebrate," Kupchak told Ingram on the phone after the Lakers picked him.

Kupchak and other Lakers employees dined there with Ingram this month when he came in for a private workout at their El Segundo facility. There was an informal dinner the following night at the facility, with several Lakers joining Ingram for the meal — Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown.

"It was really cool to see that," Ingram said. "We talked about Kobe and how he was during his time there. We talked about how I could possibly come there. We talked about different things, just joking around. I felt very comfortable being around those guys."

Russell was drafted out of Ohio State a year ago, also second overall.

Zubac, 19, probably will get an invitation to training camp, but it is unclear if he'll make the regular-season roster or become a draft-and-stash player and log more time overseas.

He helped the Croatian team win a silver medal at last year's under-19 world championships, finishing third in the tournament in scoring (17.9 points) and seventh in rebounding (7.9 a game).

Times staff writer Jesse Dougherty contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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