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November 1, 2013There's the well known Great Wall in China but have you heard of the one UC Irvine Coach Russell Turner is constructing in Orange County?
It currently consists of multiple colossal building blocks. There's 6-foot-8 junior Will Davis, the foremost Anteater frontcourter. He's joined by frosh Mamadou Ndiaye at 7-foot-6, 7-foot-2 freshman Ioannis Dimakopoulos, 6-foot-10 junior John Ryan plus 7-footer Conor Clifford and 6-10 Mike Best, both sophomores.
Now add to the mix 6-foot-10 Salesian High and Norcal Wildcat Jonathan Galloway.
Besides irvine, the 2014 East Bay big held offers from UC Davis, Sacramento State, UOP, Portland, Cal Poly, Pepperdine, with St. Mary's and Arizona State expressing interest in signing him in the spring.
"I feel it's a good fit," Galloway offered. "I liked the players, the campus and the coaching staff. Coach Turner will help me in reaching my potential."
Turner stands 6-foot-7 so he obviously has playing experience as a big. In fact, he was a two time All American while playing for Hampton Sydney in the late 80s and early 90s. He possesses a Golden State Warriors, Stanford and Wake Forest coaching pedigree,
Positionally for Galloway, the Anteater coaching staff is "looking at me to play the four and five but mostly the four because I'm fast and can run the floor better than most big men."
Galloway is leaning towards majoring in kinesiology, with the idea of working in the sports medicine field. Entering the coaching field is another possibility. "I want to stay involved in basketball."
Academically, he posted a 3.5 grade point average last year and is currently at 3.8 while striving to earn a 4.0.
The subtext of Galloway's story is how much he has improved on the court since last season.
As he said, "I'm probably not in the same position as I'm in now without playing for the Wildcats. Their training and encouragement has helped me tremendously."
Another element beneficial to his Wildcat association is "we only had one or two juniors so I played a bigger role in being a leader. We lost six seniors at Salesian so I will be more prominent there too."
Always strong defensively, Galloway now has an offensive repertoire -- "last year, I had no post moves but now I can score in the paint."
He demonstrated his movement forward during a late July game in Las Vegas, one he calls his best basketball moment -- "I had a breakout game, 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots."
Salesian High Coach Bill Mellis is certainly in Galloway's choir. "I'm really excited for Jonathan. He worked really hard in the off season and is now a completely different player. He'll be playing a much bigger role -- being the main focus for us. Jonathan is just a great kid, hardworking in the classroom with a good grade point average and well-liked around campus."
Norcal Wildcats Head Coach George Sousa Jr commented: "Jonathan comes from a great family and very good high school staff which has prepared him well on and off the court. Coach Mellis is a teacher of life and basketball and his coaching staff at Salesian has done a great job with Jonathan by preparing him."
Here's Norcal Wildcats Elite Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development Philippe Doherty with an insightful look at both Galloway, the player and person as well as why Irvine is a good choice: "Jonathan is the most improved player in northern California. As soon as the high school season finished, he put in the work and simply got better each time out. He never missed one workout and worked on all facets of his game. If he had not broken his hand in June, he would have made even more progress."
He added: "What he does will translate to college: Jonathan is a two-hand rebounder, a tremendous shot blocker who blocks balls with two hands which leads to fast breaks, and a great ball screener. He is going to a pro system at UC Irvine that utilizes inside-out play and ball screens more than most due to Coach Turner's NBA experience."
Jeremy Russotti of 1% Club Basketball offered, ""Jonathan is a person you root for. He had a lot to prove against his doubters this summer and he did not disappoint. He is the rare big true big in Norcal and has the frame to add so much more to it. Coach Turner will turn him into an absolute man so expect big things from Jonathan in the future. He is also surrounded by multiple future pros at his position which will allow him to grow exponentially."
So where does Galloway's size come from? His father stands 6-foot-7 and ran track as well as participating in basketball and football until a knee injury curtailed him. His uncle is 6-foot-9 Jermaine Galloway who played at DePaul before transferring and graduating from USF.
"I want to thank my parents for all they have done for me," Galloway said. "Also, Coach Mellis, Coach Philippe Doherty and the whole Wildcat crew. Coach Doherty has been a real mentor to me."
The Big West beat reporters have Irvine as the Big West Conference favorite this season. A long dormant program on the verge of reawakening, the saying "size matters" is going to be a mantra opposing coaches and players will be repeating in lamentation during the 2013-14 season and beyond.