- With Zion Williamson headed to Duke, five-star guard Romeo Langford is now the nation’s top uncommitted prospect in the 2018 class. He’s narrowed down his choices to Kansas, Indiana and Vanderbilt, but which school will he choose?
Almost every top-level recruit in the class of 2018 has made his college decision. When Zion Williamson revealed on Saturday that he’ll attend Duke, it left only one undecided prospect in the top eight of the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI), a composite that incorporates data from several services. That prospect is Romeo Langford, a 6’5”, 191-pound shooting guard out of New Albany Senior (Ind.) High rated No. 5 in the RSCI. Langford is a prolific scorer who was recently named a McDonald’s All-American and was one of four rising seniors selected for USA Basketball’s FIBA U19 World Cup team last summer. Sports Illustrated wrote about Langford in July, but his recruitment has changed quite a bit since then. In November, Langford released a list of three finalists: Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt. Below is a quick look at each one.
Archie Miller had a lot of catching up to do when Indiana hired him to replace Tom Crean as its head coach last March. He’s already assembled a top-25 class, with four prospects having signed in November: Four-star Pickerington North (Ohio) High power forward Jerome Hunter, four-star Riley (Ind.) High small forward Damezi Anderson, four-star McCutcheon (Ind.) High point guard Robert Phinisee and three-star Westtown (Pa.) School power forward Jake Forrester. None of them figure to make as big an impact in college as Langford, who could help make up for the loss of Indiana’s two top perimeter scorers this offseason (seniors Robert Johnson and Josh Newark) and upgrade an offense that currently ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in adjusted efficiency, according to Kenpom.com. More generally, for Miller, keeping home a top-tier prospect and potential lottery pick like Langford would amount to a massive off-court win in the winter/spring that promises to bring massive on-court benefits starting in the fall. It also would sate critics who felt Crean wasn’t doing a good enough job countering the efforts of programs outside of Indiana who raided the state for coveted recruits. If Langford picks the Hoosiers, it would give them three of Indiana’s top four prospects in the class of 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite (Langford, Anderson and Phinisee).
Langford took his final official visit to Kansas in late October. Since then, the Jayhawks signed three class of 2018 prospects—five-star The Woodlands College Park (Tex.) High combo guard Quentin Grimes, five-star Providence Day (N.C.) School point guard Devon Dotson and four-star Oak Hill (Va.) Academy center David McCormack—and saw another one, IMG (Fla.) Academy power forward Silvio De Sousa, join the Jayhawks this season. Kansas’s primary offensive option, guard Devonte’ Graham, is on his final season of eligibility, and fellow senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also won’t be back next season. It’s also possible that 6’5” junior Lagerald Vick, in the midst of his best college campaign yet, enters the NBA draft. That’s a lot of perimeter firepower heading out the door in one offseason, but the Jayhawks are set up well to account for it whether or not they get Langford. California point guard transfer Charlie Moore, who averaged 12.2 points per game as a freshman with the Golden Bears in 2016–17, will be eligible (along with Dotson and Grimes) next season, and neither of two currently eligible underclassman guards, sophomore Malik Newman and freshman Marcus Garrett, are viewed as strong 2018 draft prospects. Kansas could use the infusion of scoring Langford is capable of providing, but the Jayhawks should be OK offensively in the event they lose out to Indiana or Vanderbilt in his recruitment.
The Commodores may seem like an odd fit next to Indiana and Kansas in Langford’s group of finalists, considering they haven’t advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament since 2012 and look set to finish near the bottom of the SEC this season. A quick review of what they’ve already pulled off in this recruiting cycle reveals why that’s not the case. In the space of two weeks in November, Vanderbilt reeled in two headliners in the class of 2018: Vermont (Vt.) Academy power forward Simisola Shittu, rated No. 6 in the RSCI, and Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy point guard Darius Garland, rated No. 11. (The Commodores also signed Aaron Nesmith, a four-star small forward from Charleston, S.C., the same month). Second-year head coach Bryce Drew has already reloaded Vanderbilt with more premium talent than anyone reasonably could have expected him to at a program that hadn’t previously brought in a five-star recruit since John Jenkins in 2009, according to the 247Sports Composite, but the Commodores should have plenty of shots to go around in 2018-19 after losing three of their four leading scorers this offseason in seniors Jeff Roberson, Matthew Fisher-Davis and Riley LaChance. There may not be an SEC team next season with a backcourt rotation that could match one anchored by Garland, Langford and current freshman Saben Lee.