Just over a year ago, Khristian Lander, Anthony Leal, and Trey Galloway played together in the orange and green for the Indiana Elite AAU program on the Adidas Gauntlet.
Yesterday, the three freshmen, along with fellow first-year Jordan Geronimo, put on the cream and crimson for the first time at IU basketball’s media day.
“I’m really excited, especially with games coming up, just to be able to play with this jersey on,” Leal, the Bloomington native, said. “It means a lot to me.”
The four freshmen, who together make up 247Sports’ 16th-ranked class in 2020, all have different roles and skillsets, but despite the contrast in styles, all four players share a respect and love for one another.
“We all have each other’s backs, and we’ve gotten along pretty well,” said Galloway, who comes from in-state power Culver Academy. “I think we’re all getting into the system pretty well.”
While Galloway mentioned the previous relationship with Leal and Lander, he made sure to note that Geronimo, too, is fitting in. The 6-foot-6 wing from St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. has not only had to adjust to college life, but also to a completely new state.
“It’s been a good experience,” Geronimo said. “Coming to Indiana and really learning what the state of Indiana is about is fun.”
Though all four have the chance to play a role on this year’s team, it is the five-star Lander who shoulders the highest expectations. The Evansville, Indiana native from F.J. Reitz High School was the 26th-ranked player in last year’s 247Composite rankings. For Lander, who recently turned 18 years old, the biggest adjustment will be the physicality of college basketball.
“Each and every day I’m getting stronger and getting the hang of the offense,” Lander said. “I’m a fast learner.”
Even as Lander assumes a big role right away, Leal and Galloway should be able to make contributions from the jump. Both bring versatility, and both already possess a skill that can get them college minutes.
For Leal, that skill is his three-point shot. He’s a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc that shot 37 percent over the course of a high school career that saw him become nearby Bloomington South’s all-time leading scorer with 1,620 points.
Galloway’s calling card is his versatility. In high school he was routinely asked to guard multiple positions and take on different roles. He also took on the brunt of the offensive load, even while dealing with several injuries.
“Wherever the coaches want me to be, that’s where I’ll go,” Galloway said. “If that’s the one, two, three, guarding different positions, I’m going to do my best.”
And as for Geronimo? He’ll get his turn, but in the short term, he is focusing on getting stronger and refining some of the raw aspects of his game. He has a 40-inch vertical and multiple teammates used the term “freak” when describing his athleticism. As he acclimates to the college game and the Midwest, his role will only increase.
“The process has been difficult, but it’s been fun at the same time, Geronimo said. “I’m just learning and growing and figuring out how to maneuver through college life coming from high school. It’s a good experience.”
As the four freshmen try to adapt to the new way of doing things, they have also made a good impression on some of their older teammates. Asked about the freshmen, junior guard Rob Phinisee was effusive in his praise.
“All the freshmen, they are really great,” Phinisee said. “Everyone loves playing with them and they are great teammates.”
All four are trying to adapt to the college lifestyle in the middle of a pandemic, a task difficult for anyone.
One thing seems certain, though: Lander, Leal, Galloway and Geronimo are ready to make an immediate impact, and they will support one another and look out for each other no matter what.
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