For three years, Jermaine Galloway has lived with the expectations.
They are not self-imposed, or even solicited. Rather, they are formulated by those who see a 6-foot-10 basketball player (up from 6-7 two seasons ago) towering over most of his opponents and his success has been forecast just because of that height advantage.
It hasn't been fair to Galloway, the Kennedy High senior who has led the Fighting Irish to two consecutive Garden Grove League titles and who, naturally, is expected to make it three in a row. But Galloway has a safety valve to relieve the pressure.
"This year, I feel there's a lot more pressure on me than ever before because we are going for three in a row and we are the favorites," said Galloway, the league's most valuable player last season and a Times All-County selection. "But I look at it as respect. It makes you feel good that people expect some things from me because they respect what I can do."
This is what he can do on a basketball court:
--In 1989-90, his sophomore year, Galloway scored 275 points, the second-highest total on the team behind Jim Barker's 557. He led the Fighting Irish with 88 blocked shots and a 54% shooting percentage and was second in rebounds with 210.
-- In 1990-91, he scored 613 points to set a single-season school record and averaged 10.5 rebounds. His play catapulted the Fighting Irish to the Southern Section Division II-A semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Artesia, 67-40.
With him, Kennedy has lost only twice in 28 league games the past two seasons. And, barring a disaster, those victories should increase by leaps and bounds this year. As Los Amigos Coach Clayton Olivier says, the choice to win the league is Galloway.
All of which adds to those expectations, which, Galloway said, were partially alleviated a few weeks ago when he signed to play basketball at DePaul next winter.
"Signing has relieved the pressure from the recruiting standpoint," Galloway said. "I used to get nervous when recruiters came to the games or the practices. Now I can go out and enjoy my senior season. I don't have to look over my shoulder anymore."
To prepare for the jump to college basketball, Galloway has been lifting weights and working on his speed and agility. He also has put on about 15 pounds from last season--he's up to 210--and plans to bulk up another 10 or 15 pounds by the time he arrives in Chicago next fall. He also has been spending a lot of time at forward, the position he'll probably play at DePaul.
"I've been playing there about 70% of the time so far this season," Galloway said. "I can get out on the break easier. If we have a three-on-one going, I can score a lot easier on one of the smaller defenders."
The Fighting Irish have other capable players who can play the post position this year, particularly 6-6 junior center Pat Kunz and 6-3 junior forward Jeff Cummins--so putting Galloway on a wing was feasible for Kennedy Coach John Mayberry.
"He runs the floor as well as anyone that size we've ever had," Mayberry said. "He's learning to play the transition game."
By this time next year, however, Galloway also will be learning to find the nearest heater. When it comes to expectations, freezing temperatures and windy winters can always be counted on in Chicago.
"Everyone tells me what the weather is like there," said Galloway, who has never lived outside Southern California. "I've been staying away from the Weather Channel. I don't want to scare myself."