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Langston Galloway Isn’t Linsanity, But Is He The Better Pro?

Carmelo Anthony compared newcomer Langston Galloway to “Linsanity”

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Getty Images


A few weeks ago, Carmelo Anthony compared newcomer Langston Galloway to “Linsanity” — a fever that gripped the Big Apple when undrafted, anonymous point guard Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere and saved the Knicks’ season three years ago. It’s a shame that people couldn’t enjoy the Galloway thing without turning it into Linsanity 2.0, but “Langsanity” will never have a book written about it or its own documentary.

“Like I’ve been saying, I’m just taking it day by day and just enjoying the whole process,” said Galloway, who got a chance to meet Lin in person when the Lakers visited the Garden back on Super Bowl Sunday. “I can’t really worry about the Linsanity thing and I’m just trying to help the team win.”

The 6-2 guard from Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, made news by receiving the first call-up in Westchester Knicks history when he inked a 10-day contract on January 7.  Four days after signing a second 10-day contract, Galloway returned to Philadelphia, a second home of sorts where his mother’s side of the family resides and he played college ball.  Galloway spent four years at Saint Joseph’s playing for head coach Phil Martelli and his uncle, Geoff Arnold, who is an assistant and was a pretty good player himself back in the day for the school.

“He was one of the big influences in going there. I had family in Philadelphia as well, so it just made it more comfortable to go there,” said Galloway, who finished his career there as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,991 points, behind only 2004 consensus college player of the year Jameer Nelson (2,094). “We got a chance to grow me and him as a player-coach relationship.”

Galloway, who patterned his game after Chauncey Billups, spent four years hitting big treys on Hawk Hill and he set a school record with 343 treys. Last season, St. Joe’s used a late three-pointer from Galloway to beat Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament final, which ensured the Hawks’ NCAA berth, and he hit an even bigger shot in the final moments of the Hawks’ first-round game of the A-10 Tournament against Dayton.

His skill, grit and athleticism caught the eye of Clarence Gaines Jr., the only front-office personnel man Phil Jackson has hired to date. Gaines, the Bull’s college scout when Jackson coached in Chicago, first saw Galloway at the Portsmouth, Va. pre-draft camp last spring and has a knack for discovering guys who fit into Jackson’s system. After Galloway went undrafted, the Knicks invited him to join their summer league team and he excelled in Las Vegas, earning an invitation to training camp.

But he was among the final cuts — lost in a numbers game behind point guards Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni and Shane Larkin. He then had the option of choosing between the NBA’s Developmental League and a more lucrative contract in Europe, but Galloway stayed stateside and joined the Knicks newly formed D-League affiliate in Westchester.

“I had a couple of other offers overseas, but at the same time I knew that this was my rookie year and I had a good shot to go out there and try to get better,” said Galloway, who had other offers in Italy, Germany and Spain.

Up in the ‘burbs – roughly 28 miles from the Mecca, Galloway ran Jackson’s triangle offense and led the entire D-League in both steals and defensive win shares. He also averaged 16.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. The Zen Master kept close tabs on Galloway’s impressive development and the opportunity to showcase his talents was literally just a train ride away. With the team struggling mightily and careening towards an epically disastrous season, Galloway finally got that opportunity when New York opened up a couple of roster spots after J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were sent to Cleveland and Samuel Dalembert was waived.

Galloway initially came off the bench, and provided some offensive pop right off the bat. He 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). Additionally, Galloway amazingly became the first Knicks rookie since Patrick Ewing in 1985-86 to score in double-figures in each of his first five career starts.

His solid play helped him parlay two 10-day contracts into a contract for the remainder of this season and a partially guaranteed pact for 2015-16. Those who think Galloway is a flash in the pan are sadly mistaken. Galloway, who has started 22 of his 26 games with the Knicks, has a real shot at making an All-Rookie team and he ranks third among rookies in points per game (10.8) behind only No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins (15.9) and No. 2 pick Jabari Parker (12.3).

He plays hard, has made 6-of-9 3-pointers in the final five minutes of a five-point game and his 6’8” wingspan– longer than the much taller Tim Hardaway Jr., for example, enables him to rebound extremely well for a guard and get into passing lanes with ease. His perseverance on defense and clutch shooting has helped him become a fan favorite during this dark and dismal season.

But he is far from content and he knows that turning a 10-day contract into a sustainable career is incredibly rare. He still has strides to take if he wants to stick around, however, if things don’t work out for some reason he should be just fine.

“At St. Joe’s I worked hard in the classroom and got my sports marketing and communications degree,” Galloway told me in the Knicks locker room. “So I’m good.”

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