We’re almost there. In just over three days from now the discussion will shift from which school Romeo Langford is going to choose, to analyzing how his decision has impacted the fortunes of his three former alternatives. One thing seems certain — one school’s 2018-19 season is going to get a heavy boost of optimism. Until then though, the news and analysis continues to unfold.
Today, we take one last look going into the weekend of the latest and greatest surrounding the New Albany High School star. Of note today is a local perspective that tells the story of how Langford’s home town has embraced their young hero, another confirmation that a decision has been made, a comparison to Damon Bailey, and one writer who has had enough.
ROMEO THE ROLE MODEL
There is a good side to this protracted discussion of Romeo Langford. The young man is humble, soft-spoken, and unassuming. In an age where too many of our athletes are narcissistic and arrogant, Langford, while still only 18, provides a great alternative for our children to look up to. That is especially true on the local level, where people actually know Langford and his family, and can relate to the reluctant hero.
Rick Bozich, who has been writing about IU for more than 40 years, covered the decision from the local New Albany perspective. Bozich and WDRB produced a video where they discussed Langford with various members of the community, from barbers to shop owners and teachers.
Nothing better illustrates the positive impact that Langford is having locally than this quote from a teacher at his former elementary school, Mt. Tabor:
“My kids talk about Romeo, I talk about him every day…I talk about his character traits and his example.”
As we’ll mention later, this recruitment has gone on too long, but the longer we can put positive role models for children in the spotlight, the better.
THE DECISION HAS BEEN MADE
Jeff Rabjohns of 247 Sports attended the New Albany basketball team banquet and his headline from that event was “Romeo Langford: I know where I’m going”. That shouldn’t be too surprising at this point, given that the announcement is only three days away. We’d hate to think that he was still agonizing over the decision into this weekend.
Tim Langford, Romeo’s father, had also seemed to indicate that the decision had been made a couple days ago in a video interview with WDRB.
The family is still going to talk it over this weekend, but it sounds like it is a done deal. Now if we can just get through to Monday night without anyone trying to one-up Langford and break the story before he does.
ROMEO HAS NOTHING ON DAMON
Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel says that this Romeo-mania has nothing on the Damon Bailey saga of more than 30 years ago — and he is right. Langford is a known commodity, as we can all watch him play with a couple clicks. Hidden away in remote Bedford, Indiana with no internet, Bailey became the stuff of legend. I remember being surprised myself to find that he was only an inch or two taller than me. You expected him to be 8 feet tall.
On the other hand, this whole Romeo Langford recruiting story is actually fairly common today — at least to different degrees. With entire businesses like 247 Sports, Rivals, and others based on watching the every move of high school kids, they are all under the spotlight, and we are all able to watch their every move if we so choose.
Just this year, the recruitment of another class of 2018 member, Zion Williamson, was also followed with intense scrutiny and passion, although perhaps to a slightly lesser extent than Langford. You just didn’t hear about it because Indiana was never a contender. Right, wrong or indifferent, we seem to be more obsessed with the recruits than the players on the college teams themselves.
Hayes correctly states that back in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was impossible know much about Damon Bailey unless you actually went to watch him play. Accordingly, the circus started following Bailey at a younger age, and culminated in a pilgrimage to the Hoosier Dome, where 41,046 came to watch him win a state championship in 1990.
Another long-time and beloved IU beat writer — Terry Hutchens — can’t wait for Monday to get here. That is a sentiment that virtually everyone shares irrespective of their views on which school he should choose. Recent comments by the Langford family suggest they are ready to move on too.
While we are fans of Hutchens and recall fondly his days as the Indy Star IU beat writer, we feel he overlooked one point. Most believe that Langford was going to Louisville before the controversy there that led to the firing of Rick Pitino. As we have suggested previously, that likely threw a wrench in Langford’s plans, and may have left him genuinely undecided between what are, at least in his mind, secondary alternatives.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Monday can’t get here soon enough.
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