NEW YORK — The Romeo Langford recruitment is nearing its endpoint. Sometime before the end of April, at an as-yet undetermined location in his hometown of New Albany, Ind., Langford will reveal whether he’ll play for Indiana, Kansas or Vanderbilt next season. Langford is the lone undecided top-10 recruit in the class of 2018 and, as such, his impending college decision has attracted breathless coverage for months. When he finally makes it, it will simultaneously brighten the outlook of one program, and disappoint the fan bases of two others.
On Saturday, after a two-hour workout at the Brooklyn Nets training facility in Brooklyn the day before the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game, Langford spoke to reporters about what’s next. Langford, who narrowed his list of schools to the Hoosiers, Jayhawks and Commodores in November, is sticking with that trio even though his father, Tim, was contacted recently by new Louisville head coach Chris Mack. “I’m glad they got a new coach,” Langford said of the Cardinals, “But it’s a little bit too late now.” The elder Langford did not respond to an interview request from Sports Illustrated.
In January, SI.com broke down how Langford would fit at each of his three finalists. On Saturday, he explained why he’s attracted to each of them. In discussing Indiana, Langford pointed to how head coach Archie Miller “gets the best out of his players” as well as assistant coach Ed Schilling’s player development track record. As for Vanderbilt, Langford mentioned head coach Bryce Drew’s NBA-centric approach to running the program. “He does everything based off the league—stuff in the league that he’s been through,” Langford said of Drew, who played for four NBA teams over six seasons. At Kansas, Langford said, he’d be playing for a head coach who knows how to succeed with bigger perimeter prospects, like Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre. “That’s what he’s good at,” Langford said of Bill Self.
Langford said he won’t take any trips to schools before the big reveal, and when asked about the possibility of in-home visits, he indicated he’s already heard what he needs to know, but that he’s in contact with the coaches of his finalists on a daily basis. Langford plans to sit down with his family at some point in the near future, after participating in the Nike Hoop Summit on April 13, to make his decision. “I’m at the home stretch now,” said Langford, who noted the possibility that the announcement could take place in the gymnasium at New Albany High. “I’ve just got to make a decision,” Langford said.
Langford just wrapped up a decorated high school career that saw him grow into a local legend in a basketball-crazed state. This season, Langford averaged 35.5 points per game, according to The Indianapolis Star, while powering New Albany to the semifinals of the state playoffs and drawing standing ovations and “IU” chants from adoring supporters. He was named a McDonald’s All-American and Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and is viewed as a heavy favorite to earn the state’s Mr. Basketball award. Over his entire prep career, Langford put up 3,002 points, good for fourth on the state’s list of top scorers all-time.
Langford is an advanced scorer with favorable physical tools for a shooting guard (6’6’’ with a reported 6’10’’ wingspan) who can burn defenses from both sides of the three-point arc. The program that signs him will be getting a potent off-ball threat ready to provide points in volume from the jump. Langford, No. 5 in the class of 2018 247Sports Composite, also would be the most highly regarded player to choose any of his three finalists, although unlike Indiana, both Vanderbilt (power forward Simi Shittu, point guard Darius Garland) and Kansas (combo guard Quentin Grimes) already have signed five-star prospects.
Each of them could help Langford deliver a stellar freshman season while building his case as a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft. In his latest mock, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony pegged Langford at No. 5.
The Jayhawks present a more direct path to national contention than the Commodores or Hoosiers. Even though it’ll lose multiple key pieces from a team that just made the Final Four, Kansas will reload with several coveted transfers and a stacked recruiting class. The Jayhawks lead SI’s early top 25 for 2018-19. Vanderbilt is coming off an ugly, 12-win campaign, but Drew can sell Langford on the potential to play with two of the most highly touted players at their respective positions, Garland and Shittu. And at Indiana, Langford would have the chance to augment his in-state hoops legacy while thrilling locals who already know him well.
None of the four recruits in Indiana’s 2018 class were invited to the Jordan Brand Classic, but Vanderbilt signee Shittu and Kansas signee Grimes both spoke to SI about Langford. Although Shittu conceded Garland is closer with Langford than he is, Shittu framed his message to Langford in simple terms. “You can just come here and just do your thing,” Shittu said of the possibility of attending Vanderbilt. “Just be yourself, be a part of history.” Taking into account the room in Kansas’s perimeter rotation created by the departures of Malik Newman and LaGerald Vick to the NBA, Grimes said, “I feel like if [Langford] came, it would be crazy in the backcourt.”
At this stage of the recruiting cycle, there’s very little that hasn’t been decided. Langford doesn’t know where he’s going—or, at the very least, hasn’t publicly revealed where he’s going. Until he does, Langford will be one of the most scrutinized basketball-playing 18-year-olds in the country.