Basketball star Rodney Gallagher ended his freshman campaign with a heartbreaking loss in PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholatic Athletic Association) playoffs but that was before leading Laurel Highlands (PA) to their first WPIAL championship as a freshman in 52 years.
The 2023 point guard, who averaged around 23 points per game, has played much like a senior this year. There was never a time during Laurel Highlands WPIAL championship run where Gallagher didn’t embrace the spotlight and make the right play.
In the finale with 4.8 seconds left, the freshman stepped to the line with the chance to put his team ahead and in position to win their first championship in over five decades. Not only did the prized freshman make the first but he also nailed the second and the rest is history.
There isn’t a single accolade that could sum up his impact this year at the high school level. Gallagher has been and will continue to be next level with his playmaking ability and poise under pressure.
Combined the two, along with his energy on the defensive end, you’ll understand exactly why Illinois, Rhode Island and recently Pittsburgh decided to offer him a full ride scholarship.
It’s something he’s continously strived and worked hard for, and now he’s reaping the benefits.
“It makes me want to work even harder. This has been a dream since I started getting better and getting the exposure I wanted,” Gallagher said. “I just kept working hard and my dad always stayed on me to stay in the gym so that I’m outworking everybody to get to where I’m trying to be and it’s starting to pay off.”
Gallagher’s play on the court has definitely opened the eyes of many coaches nationally. Xavier, Arizona, Texas A&M, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Miami, Louisville and Iowa have all shown interest.
“A lot of coaches say that they like my energy and how I play with a big heart,” Gallager explained. “They like my mid range jumper, and my shot in general…just the motor that I play with and not giving up on anything that I do.”
Pittsburgh, who him and his dad grew up rooting for, saw enough his game throughout the year, and decided it wouldn’t wait any longer to offer him a scholarship.
“I’m glad they saw what I can do and now me and [Pittburgh] are starting to build a relationship,” he said. “So Pitt will definitely be a top choice whenever it comes down to my decision but as of now, I’m definitely undecided.”
Illinois and Rhode Island will likely be there as well when it’s all said and done. Illinois came out to see him during one of his games on the Adidas circuit last year. The assistant coach only needed one look at Gallagher before he got in contact with his coaches. More coaches from Illinois watched him again and then an offer ensued.
“I was actually at the airport when they offered me,” he recalled. “Me, getting my first offer like that? That definitely left tears in my eyes. That was just a dream come true.”
Following that, a week later Rhode Island offered. The Rams were second to the party but were definitely not late. They will have the opportunity to stick around for a while because that belief in him at a young age has proven to mean a lot to the star freshman.
“Rhode Island and Illinois will definitely always be right there because those were my first two schools,” he said. “Especially Illinois, because they were actually my first school and they will always have a part right there too.”
“When coaches can actually contact me, we’ll keep in touch because I’m trying to build relationships and find out what is best for me.”
Gallagher is three years away from entering college and his recruitment is still in the development stages. Despite that, he has an impressive list of programs following him currently that could rival those already in ESPN’s Top 100 in the 2020 class.
With this much hype so early in the process, it can be easy to lose sight of the goal at hand but because of his support system and mainly his father, that won’t be a problem for Gallagher.
“I’m starting so young and people can catch up to me,” he said. “So, I have to continue to work and get better as a player so I can continue to get more universities and more eyes on me.”