Almost anybody who has ever seen Oklahoma signee -- and recently named McDonald's All-American -- Keith Gallon play can see that he's a talented young man. Affectionately dubbed "Tiny" by those close to him, many also wondered whether or not he'd ever be able to reach his potential. Out of shape and struggling in the classroom early in his career, Gallon found himself in a tough spot following his sophomore season.
Worried for his future, Gallon made the decision to leave his family and the Houston area to attend storied basketball powerhouse Oak Hill. Difficult at times, the move couldn't have gone any better.
"It's helped me a lot because I feel if I'd have stayed at home my grades wouldn't be where they are and my weight wouldn't be where it is," said Gallon of the move to Oak Hill. "I feel like I wouldn't have been eligible for college because my grades were going downhill."
Tucked away near the border of North Carolina in southwestern Virginia, Oak Hill has given Gallon a distraction free zone to work on his grades, his game and most importantly his body. Balooning to well over 300 pounds at one point, Gallon has worked himself into much better shape.
"I'm at 290 now. I was about 350 maybe 353," said Gallon of his weight loss. "I've stopped all of my snacking. No fried foods, absolutely no soda and less sweets. I've cut down on a lot of empty calories and now when I eat food I eat light food and lots of grilled chicken and salad."
Not surprisingly, he's seen results on the floor thanks to the lost weight.
"Since I've lost a lot of weight I can shoot the ball and dribble the ball," Gallon told Sooners Illustrated. "Last year I was just an inside man. Now I can do both and that makes me more valuable."
So far this season, Gallon has helped to lead Oak Hill to a 32-0 record and the number two spot in the national high school polls. He's obviously busy, but also does his best to keep up with his future teammates and their own great season.
"I watch them when I can," said Gallon of the Sooners. "We're so busy at Oak Hill and lights are off at 8:30 so I don't watch them a lot. But, it's fun whenever I can watch them."
Understandably, Gallon has been preparing himself to help fill the interior void that will be left by Blake Griffin's almost certain departure to the NBA. He also knows that he'll have plenty of help.
"My work ethic is real good so I feel like I can come in and be the type of player Blake is. It may take me a year or two but I'm going to work real hard," said Gallon. "I like playing with Willie Warren, he'll share the ball. Then you got Tommy Mason-Griffin coming in and Andrew Fitzgerald too. I feel like we can be really good. I want to work hard and try to go undefeated and win a national championship."
In the meantime, Gallon is just looking to finish out his time at Oak Hill strong and looks forward to heading to Miami for the McDonald's All-American game. More than anything, there's a special somebody at home who is happy with him that has made all he has gone through worthwhile. "My mother is really proud of me and that's the number one thing," says Gallon with a big smile. "It was hard for her to let me go but she knew that some good would come out of it and it has."