By LARRY VAUGHT
He might not have played as well or as much as he wanted — and a minor injury contributed to that — during the FIBA Under 19 World Cup, but that won’t impact the way New Albany (Ind.) guard Romeo Langford will finish the summer or his final high school season.
Langford scored 44 points in a regional semifinal loss to end his junior season. That gave him 2,079 career points meaning he needs 1,056 points this year to break Damon Bailey’s state record of 3,134 points set in 1990. Only four players in Indiana history have scored 1,000 or more points in a season and Langford would have to average 36 or more points per game to reach that mark. He finished last season averaging 28.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.
“He really is cool as a cucumber,” said New Albany coach Jim Shannon. “He doesn’t let anything phase him. He is able to go out and give his best in any situation. If he comes up short, he is able to accept it and move on. He is very mature
“He’s never too high or too low. He is very well grounded. A lot of that comes from his upbringing. He has been raised well.”
Langford, the No. 3 overall prospect in the 2018 ESPN 100, says he’s a better player than he was a year ago. Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana are all recruiting him along with Duke, North Carolina, Purdue and many others.
He insists living just across the Kentucky-Indiana border in New Albany just 20 minutes from Louisville has made handling the recruiting pressure easy.
“I have a whole bunch of fans from every school that every day tell me I should go to their school,” Langford said. “It’s kind of easy just to ignore them because there are so many. It’s just them talking about their school. They are just doing what they think they have to do for their team.
“My dad helps me a lot with recruiting, too. He does mainly the talking with college coaches. They do not have my (cell phone) number. I don’t have to worry about coaches texting me or taking up my time. He takes care of that for me.”
Shannon says college coaches contact him about setting up meetings or coming to a practice or game. They also sometimes want to set up a meeting in the coach’s office.
“But all recruiters go through Tim Langford. I am just there to facilitate. They are in full control of his recruiting,” Shannon said. “I stay plenty busy with college coaches and media interviews about him. There is going to be a documentary about him. There have been film crews at school following him around. He keeps me pretty busy.”
But Langford is also getting better. He says he’s better than he was a year ago and Shannon quickly agreed and said not making the USA under 17 team in 2016 had something to do with that.
“He hadn’t been told no in a long time. He has always excelled on the court,” the coach said. “When he got told no (about being on the team), it was the first time that had happened. Romeo and his whole family handled it well. They had no regrets about trying out. They had nothing vindictive to say about the process.
“But it made him work even harder. He is still a quiet, unassuming person, but he has become more vocal on the court. Some of the greatest players of all time are that way. He leads by example but I think his senior season he will be more vocal and take even more of a leadership role.”
So what does he do so well that Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, North Carolina and others are pursuing him so hard?
“What he does best is everything. He goes take to rim, can pull up and hit a short range jumper, is capable of hitting 3’s and is an excellent free throw shooter. That makes for a heck of an offensive player. He’s not at all selfish. Probably as selfless as any player I have ever coached and certainly selfless in an era where people of his magnitude have a me thing a lot of times,” Shannon said.
“He never runs to me about stats or getting more shots. He’s chasing Damon Bailey’s record, but I would never expect him to say anything to me about that or leaving him in a game so he can score more. For all he has ahead of him, he will not be concerned about the record. He’ll worry a lot more about helping us win.”
Langford expects to cut his potential list to about seven in the next few weeks but has not indicated when he might make a college decision.
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