After an early end to a disappointing 2017-18 season, it is the biggest Indiana University men’s basketball story going. With an announcement not expected until mid to late April, the anticipation and excitement regarding the college choice of New Albany, Indiana product and IU recruiting target Romeo Langford is reaching mass (Hoosier) hysteria.
Langford is dealing with his own disappointment, as the New Albany Bulldogs lost in the semi-state round of the Indiana boys high school basketball tournament to Warren Central, ending their pursuit of a second title in 3 years. For Langford, it was the end to an electrifying high school career in which he ended up in 4th place on the Indiana high school all-time scoring list with 3,002 career points — just 132 behind all-time leader Damon Bailey.
Now it is time for Langford, who is the top-ranked uncommitted 2018 recruit in the country, to turn his attention to his college decision. The choices are down to Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt. Let us be clear from the outset — we don’t know what his decision will be. But let’s also be clear about something else — despite what anyone might tell you, no one else knows either.
WHAT THE “EXPERTS” ARE SAYING
Despite having no real credentials and generally no real inside information, somehow the recruiting predictions business has grown into an industry. You can find dozens or more people who claim to know where Langford and others are going to play in college.
Like any good business, the recruiting predictions business exists precisely because there is no information. It fills a void. Since everyone wants to know what school kids will choose, but no one actually knows, it makes sense to pretend like you know. They even have the nerve to call themselves “experts” and place an accuracy rating next to their name.
What they don’t tell you is that accuracy rating is based on their prediction right before the announcement, and their percentages still aren’t that good. Never mind if they changed that prediction 12 times along the way. It’s like a NCAA tournament bracketologist that looks brilliant minutes before the brackets are announced but wants you to forget all about their bracket in November.
Swaying with the wind of every bit of gossip over the last few years, the self-proclaimed experts have had Langford going to Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Vanderbilt and probably some others that we’ve missed along the way. Now they are so confounded with this 18 year old phenom that CBS owned (yep, it’s a big business) 247 Sports has it at a stalemate between IU and Vanderbilt as of this writing. But that will likely change. Again.
Yes, the recruiting predictions business rests somewhere between horoscopes and palm reading. And well, you know what they say. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
THE DAILY HOOSIER “EXPERT” PREDICTION
After a robust analysis, including plugging all of the data into our patented recruiting prediction algorithm, we think we’ve finally cracked the Romeo Langford code. Sure he’s just a kid trying to graduate from high school and get on with his life, but he couldn’t fool us any longer.
In all seriousness, there have been a couple recent bits of information that lead us to believe that Langford is in fact headed to Indiana next year. Surprisingly, given all of the buzz surrounding this young man, these bits of information haven’t received a lot of mainstream coverage in the media. But then, they don’t have the TDH algorithm, now do they?
Langford Has Another Indiana Visit Scheduled in April
Several media outlets have reported that the Langford family will take another visit to Bloomington in April. At this point, after literally years of vetting this decision, you have to ask yourself if this visit is truly because Langford is undecided, or rather just to make one last trip to confirm what he already knows.
Meanwhile we have heard nothing of additional visits to Vanderbilt or Kansas. To the contrary, Romeo’s father, Tim Langford, has stated that Kansas is “too far” to visit. With that mindset you have to believe that distance is a factor in the decision. If the family can’t be troubled to make the 8 hour drive to Lawrence, Kansas before sending their son off to college, then perhaps it isn’t really a serious alternative.
Nashville is closer than Lawrence, but still an hour further away than Bloomington, each way. Not something you’d be looking forward to if long trips aren’t your thing. Bloomington is the closest at around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
But back to that April visit to Bloomington. It is really one of three things: (1) part of the decision process, (2) a confirmatory visit, or (3) they are making the trip to tell the staff that they are going elsewhere. Which of these, after all this time, seems the most likely to you?
The Announcement Will Take Place Somewhere in the New Albany Community
Tim Langford also stated that the family would like to make the announcement “out in the community“, perhaps with the mayor of New Albany (an IU graduate) involved. By now you’ve likely seen or heard the crowds at Langford’s games throughout the season. Chants of “IU” permeated throughout just about every gym he visited.
Those same people, or people like them, will surely be at any public announcement. Now ask yourself this: Would you want to make an announcement for Vanderbilt or Kansas, or want your son or daughter to make that announcement, in front of a large crowd decked out in candy stripes? It might just be a vocal minority, but there would almost certainly be a audible hostility. Hopefully it would only be audible.
Some might say that New Albany isn’t an “IU town”, so there isn’t much risk of that. While there is some truth to that, it is still at least a 25-50% IU town, and there won’t be anything stopping IU fans from all over the state attending an announcement out in public.
There are countless other opportunities to make the announcement, including at the McDonald’s All-American game or other out of state events. There is just no reason to expose yourself and your family to any potential ugliness.
Indiana’s Roster is the Perfect Mix
Finally, the highly scientific TDH prediction algorithm spit out one more thing to consider. If Langford is looking to play for a team where he can showcase his talents on a good team, on a national stage, where he won’t potentially be overshadowed — then Indiana is the obvious choice. Both Kansas and Vanderbilt already have multiple 5-star commits coming in next year.
As we’ve seen with Kentucky and Duke, with too much talent, some guys, even 5-stars, can fade into the background. Admittedly, Vanderbilt’s roster will still leave plenty of opportunity for Langford to shine, but he would be competing for touches and fame with Darius Garland in the backcourt.
With Langford and forward Juwan Morgan, Indiana would have two high level players that could work well together, and a deep, long and talented complimentary 2018-19 roster. IU desperately needs a primary backcourt scoring threat and perimeter shooter. Langford could step right into that role with little apparent competition while immediately increasing the national profile of Indiana to a Top 20 team with much greater national visibility.
Wherever Romeo Langford chooses to play, we wish him the best. So much attention and notoriety can be a dangerous thing for someone so young. By all accounts he has handled it all with the kind of dignity and grace that can make us all proud to call him a “Hoosier”, even if our scientific models have somehow failed us — and the jersey doesn’t say Indiana on the front.
ROMEO LANGFORD’S SENIOR YEAR MIX TAPE
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Main photo credit – McDAAG