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NBA PM: College Days Distant for Horford

A lot has changed for Al Horford since leaving back-to-back championship seasons at Florida… Langston Galloway talks about comparisons to Jeremy Lin

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Horford Waxes Nostalgic for His College Days

When a certain amount of times goes by, it gets easy to forget that Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer all were on the same back-to-back championship University of Florida teams in 2006 and 2007. All three of those players were top-10 picks in 2007, and teammates Taurean Green and Chris Richard also were drafted in the second round.

Those were a couple of truly great college teams at the end of an era when the NCAA’s biggest stars actually stuck around for more than just a year or two. But even though three of those Florida players were taken with such high draft picks, nobody knew for sure whether they’d be as good in the pro game as they were at Florida.

Eight years later, both Horford and Noah have All-Star and All-NBA selections under their belts, as well as a handful of other NBA accolades. According to Horford, their success has been surprising, even to them.

“We didn’t see this coming like this,” Horford said. “I think we both knew once we won our first championship at Florida that we were going to have an opportunity to play in the NBA, that we were going to develop like this. I definitely didn’t see it coming, but it’s gratifying to be able to still play at a high level and Joakim being Defensive Player of the Year (in 2014) and doing everything that he is doing is good to see.”

Early in Horford’s career, any time he’d come through Chicago he’d get asked tons of questions from reporters trying to play the Florida angle, but he doesn’t really get those questions any more. In fact, Noah and Horford have even grown apart in the eight years since leaving school, which of course isn’t unique just to their friendship.

“We keep in touch, but not as much as we used to,” Horford admitted. “I feel like everyone starts growing and going their different ways, but every time we get together it’s like we never missed a beat. I’ll see Joakim out there and it’s like we’re back to being roommates in school and everything is great.”

The same is true for Brewer and even Green, but Horford will be the first to say that there are times when he misses the care-free life he was afforded back in college.

“The one thing I probably miss most is being able to hang out with all my friends and former teammates,” he said. “I felt like we all had really good relationships and practices were great, but off the court, whether it was going to the movies or hanging out outside of our dorm rooms, getting together with some of the football players that were there at the time and all hanging out, I miss things like that.

“Or McDonalds runs at two in the morning,” he grinned. “Those types of things are the things that I miss, the good memories that you have with friends and teammates.”

He understands, of course, that growing up and apart after college is inevitable, but he thinks the NBA has been everything he and his former teammates could have hoped for.

“It has been good for us,” he said. “Corey is the type of player that is so confident I feel like wherever he goes he is going to impose his will, and that is what he has been doing. And Joakim is such a competitor, he can get any team fired up, so I am proud of what we have been able to do here so far in our NBA careers.”

These types of lasting college friendships are rarer in the new NBA, as there are increasing number of big stars that are playing only one season with their college teams before heading for the league.

“[Today’s NBA] is different, but you have to acknowledge that a lot of the guys are one-and-done,” Horford said. “If they could come straight to the NBA they probably would. When you’re that talented, you don’t know how a person feels about certain things. I think school maybe is not built for everyone so, I guess I understand.

“But I think it kind of makes our group a little unique because we stayed a few years. We weren’t one-and-done types of players, and we all got at least those two years of college together.”

Those days are gone, though, and now Horford has to suffer through being a multi-millionaire All-Star on the Eastern Conference’s most prolific team. Just because he’s an adult, though, doesn’t mean all of his decisions have to be smart ones.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to make better choices eating-wise. You don’t have to go to the 99 cents menu anymore,” Horford said. “But I still like Ramen noodles.”

You can take the player out of college, but you can’t take the college out of the player.

Undrafted Langston Galloway Speaks On Unexpected Success

It’s no secret that the New York Knicks are having one of the most dismal seasons for that franchise in recent memory, but one of the bright spots has been 23-year-old rookie point guard Langston Galloway, who has broken out with the Knicks after spending the first part of the season with New York’s D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.

Averaging over 11 PPG in just his first NBA season, Galloway is often compared to another former Knicks point guard that came out of nowhere: Jeremy Lin.

“I don’t look at it as me being compared to Linsanity; it’s just me being compared to another NBA player, which is great,” Galloway told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. “He’s in the league for a reason and I’m just trying to stick in the league. I want to build and grow as a player and continue to stay confident.”

So far he’s looked plenty confident, scoring the ball with relative ease despite only being 6’2. He’s a more natural two guard, and he played a lot of that last season at St. Joseph’s, but the NBA game certainly is conducive to smaller guys who can score.

“I think I can play the one,” he said. “I think I can be a scoring one. A lot of guards nowadays are ones that score. I try to watch guys like that, and I want to be able to distribute the ball as well. But I can do it.”

Galloway was not drafted this year, which was disappointing for any young player, but he admits he actually wasn’t particularly surprised that no team called his name on draft night last June.

“I heard stuff about not being the biggest two-guard, not being the quickest one, then not being able to handle being a point guard,” he said. “It was fuel for me. I went to Portsmouth, I had a chance to show a little bit of what I can do, and that’s what got the Knicks interested in me.”

That interest sent him to the D-League, rather than to Europe, where he almost certainly would have made more money.

“I thought about trying to get the money first,” he admitted. “I had a few offers in Italy, one in Germany, one in Spain. They were pretty significant. But I talked to my agent and my parents and I thought the best decision was to stay and try and develop in the D-League. Even though it’s not a prestigious league, I knew I could build on my game every day. Westchester gave me the opportunity.”

That opportunity has now led to an even bigger opportunity on the NBA stage, which he has unquestionably made good use of. He doesn’t want to be a flash in the pan, however, and hopes he can extend his success beyond a bad season for a bad team that has big plans for the draft and free agency this summer.

It’s hard to know if he’s done enough to warrant a long-term contract with New York or some other team, but there’s no question that he’s doing everything he can to make it. Hey, it worked for Jeremy Lin, right?

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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