Clovis Gallon Jr. wants to prove he belongs at the NCAA Division I level.
But after he didn’t receive any D-I basketball scholarship offers, despite averaging 18 points per game and being nominated for the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Game in his senior year, the York High star will take a postgraduate year at Olympus Prep Academy in Williamstown, New Jersey, to improve his game.
“I think doing a postgraduate year will turn me into a totally different player,” Gallon Jr. said. “That gives me a whole extra year to better myself at everything. It can only be a positive.”
Working harder: One of the areas Gallon Jr. needs to work on, according to his father and coach at York High, Clovis Gallon Sr., is the effort he gives on the court. Gallon Sr. says that college coaches have told him that his son has D-I talent, but needs to increase how hard he plays on the court on each possession to earn a scholarship.
“Clovis is a kid that hasn’t really tapped into the killer in him,” Gallon Sr. said. “If you watch him play, it doesn’t look like he’s playing hard. At the end of the game, you say ‘wow, this kid just had 27 points, nine rebounds and guarded the other team's best player.’ It doesn’t look like he has to work hard to do what he does.”
Extra motivation: Gallon Jr. said that the competition level at Olympus Prep will require him to go all out on every play, which he hasn’t done at times in the past.
After he switched his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) squad to Team Final Red, the 6-foot-5 guard said competing against the elite high school prospects showed him that he needed to bring the same energy to every game, unlike in high school.
“For AAU I’m playing against top-tier talent all the time so that’s just making me bring my A-game all the time so I won’t look weak,” Gallon Jr. said. “Playing in (the) York-Adams (League) I could just play laid back, still get my average points, we would blow the team out and nothing happens. Playing in this league, I have to be on the top of my game because everyone is just as good as me.”
Can’t coach effort: Unlike a jump shot or dribbling skills, playing hard isn’t something any coach can teach a player. It’s something the athlete has to do for himself or herself, and Gallon Jr. knows that.
He said he had spent the summer training harder than he ever has because he knows the only thing holding him back from his dream is the effort he is willing to put in.
“That’s mostly a mental thing,” Gallon Jr. said. “You can’t work on playing hard, I just have to tell myself ‘I have to go as hard as I can.’”
The Gallons spoke with Shavar Reynolds Jr., whose father, Shavar Reynolds Sr., graduated from York High, about his experience going to a postgraduate school and received positive feedback. Reynolds Jr. went to Covenant College Prep and earned a scholarship to D-I Seton Hall University.
Gallon Jr. said that the Olympus Prep group felt like a family to him and that he was excited to join the team, despite the workouts three times per day that begin at 5 a.m. In addition to the intense practice schedule, Gallon Jr. wasn’t looking forward to moving to a different state and playing for a different coach.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be tough,” Gallon Jr. said. “I’m not too far away, but it’s going to be tough.”
All eyes on him: Another major factor in the decision to go with Olympus Prep was the elite teams Gallon Jr. will face during the season. In the school’s conference is Scotland Campus, which was ranked the No. 1 prep team in the country at one point last season.
Along with Scotland Campus, the conference features the Perkiomen School and Putnam Science Academy, which sent players to Villanova University and the University of Connecticut last season, respectively.
With coaches from the elite programs in the country watching him, Gallon Jr. will have the opportunity to prove he belongs at the highest level. He knows what he needs to do to earn the scholarship and has his sights set on the best schools in the NCAA.
“If I do what I do and play with that motor, we’re talking about big-time DI offers, like the Big Ten and other big conferences in the country,” Gallon Jr. said.
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.