It wasn’t supposed to play out this way…
Coming out of college, Langston Galloway was hoping he wouldn’t have to fight and claw for an NBA roster spot. He was hoping to be drafted. Even the second round would have been a blessing.
Galloway was coming off a phenomenal career at St. Joseph’s. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals during his senior season. He left St. Joe’s as the school’s second all-time leading scorer (behind only Jameer Nelson) and the most prolific three-point shooter in SJU history.
Alas, Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announced a grand total of 60 different names on draft night this past summer, but neither man called out the name “Langston Galloway.”
However, Galloway viewed this setback not as a roadblock preventing him from reaching his NBA dream, but merely a minor bump in the road.
On Wednesday night, prior to the Knicks-Thunder game at Madison Square Garden, Basketball Insiders caught up with Galloway inside the New York locker room to discuss his unconventional journey from an undrafted afterthought, to staring guard for the Knickerbockers.
Galloway’s long voyage to MSG began in the days after the draft. He was contacted by the Knicks and invited to train with team and play for the Knicks in Las Vegas at the NBA’s annual summer league. Galloway impressed coaches right away in practice and continued to make a favorable impression during summer league action in Vegas, earning an invitation to the big club’s training camp back in New York. On September 9, 2014, Galloway signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Knicks.
Yet, Galloway saw only limited minutes during the preseason and was waived by New York in late October. Still, team president Phil Jackson wanted Galloway to remain close by, signing him to play for the Knicks D-League affiliate in Westchester.
Unsurprisingly to those that know him, Galloway held firm to the belief that he’d eventually climb the ladder to the top and play in the NBA. Even after not getting drafted and getting waived by the Knicks prior to the start of the season, his faith in himself never wavered.
“I was confident throughout,” Galloway said. “I’m real confident with myself and confident with what I can do. I just try to take it day by day and enjoy the whole process, not just trying to get here but also I enjoyed the process in the D-League and getting better, that is the biggest thing.”
He admits that getting overlooked on draft day was the nadir of the process, but not something he allowed himself to focus on. Instead, he got right back in the gym.
“Yeah (not getting drafted) was probably was the low point,” Galloway said. “You want to get drafted, but at the same time I just took a day off and regrouped and knew that I had to continue to work hard to get on this level.”
Upon signing with the Westchester Knicks, Galloway was determined to prove he belonged on the biggest of stages. And that’s exactly what he did, averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 2.1 three-pointers per game in the D-League. He also averaged an impressive 5.9 rebounds per contest. Although Galloway only measures in at 6’2”, he has a remarkable 6’8” wingspan that enables to rebound extremely well for a guard.
One of the knocks on Galloway coming out of college was that he was too much a “tweener” – too small to play shooting guard, and not a pure enough passer to play point in the NBA. For Galloway, he doesn’t limit himself to one specific position. Call him whatever you like.
“A combo guard, a basketball player,” Galloway said. “At the end of the day I just want to go out there and do my job and have fun with it.”
Jackson and Knicks management obviously were keenly aware of Galloway’s impressive performances and consistent development. With the team struggling mightily and careening towards an epically disastrous season, Jackson began focusing on the future, trading away J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. With the roster paired down, the team was in need of guards. Furthermore, the team desperately needed a spark. Enter a young, hungry, undrafted rookie.
On January 7, the Knicks signed Galloway to a 10-day contract (in the process, he became the first ever call up from Westchester). He came off the bench initially, and provided some offensive pop right off the bat. In his second NBA game, and his MSG debut, Galloway poured in 19 points. Two games later, Galloway was inserted into the starting lineup. He tallied 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in that game. Per the Elias Sports Bureau: Galloway became just the fifth Knicks player since 1970-71 to score 20+ points and grab at least five rebounds in his first career NBA start. The other Knicks to do this are Dean Meminger (1971), Henry Bibby (1974), Bill Cartwright (1979) and Channing Frye (2005).
Prior to the insertion of Galloway into the Knicks starting lineup, New York had lost 26 of their previous 27 games. Since Galloway earned a starting nod, the Knicks have gone 4-2.
Galloway is happy to see the Knicks right the ship a bit, but humbly deflects too much of the credit. He avows he is just happy to be living out his (deferred) dream.
“I mean it’s definitely been a lot of fun, just enjoying this whole process,” Galloway said. “It has been a great experience, getting a chance to play some minutes and try to help this team win.”
As he spoke, game tape of the OKC Thunder played on the TV screen in the Knicks locker room. Highlights of the high-flying Russell Westbrook were impossible to miss. Galloway, fresh of signing a contract that would make him a Knick for the remained of the 2014-15 season, was preparing to match up with one of the NBA’s most dynamic athletes. However, the confident youngster was excited and declared he was looking forward to the challenge in front of him.
“My personality, I’m just fortunate to match up with any of these guys, especially the point guards,” Galloway said. “I know that it’s a point guard and shooting guard heavy league, so you look for those matchups and take it is as a challenge. You just try to get better from it and learn as you go.”
Westbrook had a terrific game, but the Knicks prevailed and ended up beating the Thunder in a game OKC desperately wanted to win.
Galloway posted another solid line, finishing with 18 points, four rebounds, three steals and four assists (versus only one turnover).
Amazingly, Galloway is the first Knicks rookie in 30 years to score in double-figures in each of his first five career starts. The last Knicks rookie to match that feat was none other than New York legend Patrick Ewing in 1985-86.
Still, Galloway is far from content. He knows he still has strides to take if he wants to stick around. Turning a 10-day contract into a sustainable career is incredibly rare. He quickly notes that it’s not just one aspect of his game that needs improvement, but rather his overall game.
“Trying to get better each game and then learning, that’s the biggest thing,” Galloway said. “With this league, being a rookie, I can grow as a player; just take little things from different guys I play against. I’m just trying to help this team win some games, that’s the biggest thing.”
Before leaving the locker room to not only battle Westbrook, but also the stigma that undrafted players aren’t supposed to stick around for more than 10 days at time, Galloway was asked if he any advice for overlooked players such as himself.
“Yeah, I mean just continue to work hard and get better each day,” Galloway said. “Don’t worry about if you might come up short of your dreams. Know in the back of your mind that you can still achieve. Know that there are alternate routes. You might not be a draft pick because there are only two rounds it’s tough to try and squeeze in there. But at the same time just continue to enjoy it and have fun with it.”
For the first time all season, New Yorkers have been able to enjoy and have fun watching the Knicks over the last two weeks. And a large reason for this surprising turnaround has been the effort and play of Galloway, an unexpected bit of brightness in an otherwise dreary season.
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