EJ Gallup is a 33 year old 193cm guard from Gloverville, New York that has been a professional basketball player since 2003. He is a very positive player on the court, who plays with talent and personality. Has great offensive skills and knows how to do at the defensive side. He started his basketball career at Albany (NCAA2) in 2000 and played there until 2002. He then transferred to Co.Carolina (NCAA) where he played until 2004. In his senior year, he played 29 games averaging 17.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 89.6%. He started his professional basketball career in 2006 with Albany Patrons (CBA). He then moved to Germany in the same season playing for ratiopharm Ulm (Germany-1.Bundesliga): 10 games: 4.7ppg, 2FGP: 35.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 2-3. In 2007-2008, he returned to Ulm playing 34 games: 12.2ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 87.3%. He stepped away from the court from 2008-2011 before returning to play for the Albany Legends (IBL) averaging 17ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.6apg, 3PT: 56%(1). He returned back to Germany in 2011 and played for TBB Trier playing 10 games averaging 6.8ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 32.1%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 83.3%. He returned back to the United States in 2012 and played for the Schenectady Legends (IBA) the last years. He is looking to come back to Europe to play professional basketball again. He spoke to German Hoops about the game he loves.
EJ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
I am currently home in New York. Summer has been great, been keeping very busy opening a new business and also playing in a bunch of different summer leagues and Pro Ams. For the past few months I’ve had 4-5 games a week.
Just when I thought I would never hear your name again, an agent contacted telling me that you want to come back to Europe. What has propelled you to a third comeback at almost 34 years of age? Which particular leagues and countries are you targeting right now and why? How closely have you been following the developments in European basketball in the past few years? Do you have a plan in mind or a tactic figured out to convince a team to obtain your services?
Yea, well that is part of the reason I agreed to play in so many different leagues at one time. I wanted to be in the gym every day, getting in shape and seeing how my body would respond to playing so much and I feel great. You’re only as old as you feel and I feel really good playing a lot of minutes every night. I am 33 going on 34 and I know I have plenty of gas left in the tank. It’s funny for athletes when you’re 29 you’re in your prime and then when you turn 30 you’re suddenly considered old lol. There are plenty of guys that take care of themselves overseas and in the NBA that stay productive well into their 30s. As far as countries I’m targeting, I’m really open to anything at this point. When I played in Trier I spent a lot of free time in Luxembourg and really liked it there. So Luxembourg is definitely a place I wouldn’t mind playing. Also other Leagues like Holland, Austria, UK and Switzerland I believe would be good fits for me. I still l have a lot of former teammates that are playing overseas so I try to follow them as much as possible and wish all of them nothing but the best.
You played three seasons with ratiopharm Ulm and a season with TBB Trier, never playing in any other country except Germany. What made Germany and its basketball so appealing to you? Do you still follow the career of your former coach Mike Taylor who took over the Poland national team now? How thankful are you that he helped you achieve your first real breakthrough in Europe in 2007?
Yeah, Thomas Stohl and Mike Taylor at the time signed me in Ulm, I loved my time there, myself, Brian Lucas, Jeff Gibbs, Sean Finn, Dru Joyce, Kyle Bailey, Romeo Travis, Konrad Wysoki, Sebastian Betz and the rest of the guys we had a very fun team. When it’s all said and done as a player those are the things you remember, the friendships that you make and the good times that you had. The fans there were always very good to me and at the time we were building something there in Ulm and to see where they are now is great. I still keep in contact with Mike Taylor. He’s first and foremost a great guy but also a great coach and is by no surprise to me continuing to build a very good career for himself in the coaching world and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity he and Thomas gave me in Ulm. The Bundesliga in my opinion is one of the very best leagues overseas. It’s very professional ,all the teams have great fan bases and there are a lot of very good players. My time in Trier was much shorter than in Ulm. There I got to reconnect with a former teammate and friend that I played with in Ulm, Dru Joyce. I’m am also very grateful to coach Henrik Roedl for the opportunity he gave me in Trier. Trier was also a very nice city and have great fans there as well and will be back on top very soon im sure.
After playing in Ulm, you opened a restaurant and then came back to play for TBB Trier. Afterwards, you yet again went back home to teach basketball. Was it difficult to stick to the life as a professional basketball player overseas? Did you not see any more long term perspective with professional basketball at age 30? Or would you say it was because basketball and making money playing basketball wasn’t your only option to make a living?
It’s funny, when I came out of college everyone said to me that I would have a 12-15 year career overseas. I have a lot of friends that are going to have those type of careers and I really respect them for that. For me I always just took it one year at a time. If there was a good situation and a good fit to play somewhere then I would play. Also if there was a good situation or opportunity for me at home doing something else then I would do that. Basketball always has been and always will be my passion but at the same time it doesn’t last forever for anyone so I always wanted to keep building things for myself to fall back on at home for when Basketball doesn’t pay the bills anymore.
You played only a short time with TBB Trier, but what do you feel was the most important thing you could gain in this period from head coach Henrik Roedl? Despite leaving prematurely, would you say you parted ways on good terms with your last team? Does the fact that you averaged good numbers despite limited minutes give you extra confidence for this new comeback?
Playing for and learning from Coach Roedl ,though only for a short time, was great. He is a guy that I knew first of as a player and a guy that has a playing career like he did for me is someone that has instant credibility to me. When you play for a coach that used to be a very successful player like Henrik the things he may point out or adjust in your game, you know it’s coming from a place of great experience. I left in good terms with him, I will email him once in a while wishing him the best. I have great relationships with every coach I’ve ever played for whether it be High School, College, or any professional team. My role in Trier was a little different than it was in Ulm, I knew that it was going to be going into my time there. I think a key to any successful team is having guys that know and accept their roles. I was a veteran to help some of the younger guys while also still being a starter, I was expected to be productive in my minutes. So that’s what I tried to do, I just made the most out of my minutes and wanted to help the team in any way possible.
In the last three years you were back in the States and coached basketball as well as stayed in shape playing for the Schenechtady Legends (IBA-PBL). How were you able to grow as an athlete and mentor during this time? What goals do you have as a player now at age 33? This will probably be your last hurra in Europe and you will surely want to make the best out of it.
Whether I am overseas or at home in the States, no matter what, I’m going to be playing ball. I think I speak for a lot of players when I say just because I’m not on a roster overseas it doesn’t mean that I’m not in shape or playing a lot of Basketball. The Schenectady Legends has been a great way for me to stay in shape, keep playing in a very competitive and high level of Basketball while being home and not overseas. This past season we went 15-0 in the IBA and won the Championship in Chicago in December. Our team in particular is full of guys that are talented enough to play overseas, so that’s a great way for me to stay on top of my game. My goals at 33 are the same as they were at 23. I’d like to find a team that is the right fit and be and immediate impact player and do whatever I can to help them win games. I realize I am closer to the end of my career than to the start of it. So if it does happen that I do make another trip overseas to play, I think I will just take it all in a little more, enjoy the little things. But it is by no means a farewell tour or swan song, I’m too competitive for that, when I go somewhere I’m there to work hard make shots and help the team win games.
You can still make the open shot at ease as there are many recent videos of you online showing you working and toning your basketball skills. Is shooting something for you that you just can´t unlearn? On the other hand, does it bother you that you might be seen as a one dimensional shooter even though you have many other fine skills, like passing and game understanding?
Shooting the basketball is obviously what I’m known for. The videos are mainly just to show teams/coaches/agents that I can shoot it now better than ever. My whole career starting in college and then overseas going into it I was just thought of as a shooter and then, after a few days with a team, my coaches were always surprised that I can also put it on the floor and make plays for others. I grew up playing point guard in high school before my last growth spurt going into college. I became a two guard. I use that to my advantage, I go into games hoping that the scouting report on me just says „stand still shooter“. It usually gives me a couple surprise moments and free opportunities every game to make a play off the dribble.
Do you have other methods now to keep your body in shape compared to, lets say, 10 years ago? What is your secret to still being in such good physical condition? Please explain why you can help any professional basketball team this season on the court. What does EJ Gallup in year 2015 have that other players don’t have?
I am much more conscious of the things I eat than I was 10 years ago, I drink a lot more water than ever but the biggest thing for me is stretching. I really have made an effort to stretch before and after all workouts and just become more flexible. If you want to play into your 30s at a high level, then these are just things you have to do to take care of your body. For me honestly I just play a lot to keep in shape, whether it’s workouts or pickup games or Pro Ams, I’m always in the gym. What I have to offer is being a veteran who has played at some of the highest levels in some of the biggest games. I bring leadership and experience to any backcourt and help spread the floor and keep double teams off any front court.
How does a normal day look like for you on and off the court in the summer of 2015?
A normal day for me this summer is working on building my business during the day and then either heading to the gym and weight room for a workout or playing in a summer league game at night.
What is the state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
In my opinion he is far and away the best player on the planet and even if he stopped playing today would be a top 5 player of all time. I am slightly biased being former teammates and friends with Dru Joyce and Romeo Travis I got to see a little bit first hand of the work Lebron puts in on his game and just really respect what he does on the court. I am not sure any great in the history of the game is so closely scrutinized, and still he continues to push through all of it and continues to dominate. But I am hoping my Knicks make some noise this season!
What was the last movie that you saw?
I can’t even tell you the last full movie I’ve seen. By the time I get home at night from a game or workout and start a movie I am passed out half way through it lol
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Thanks EJ for the chat