Around the Hall: Reaction to Romeo Langford’s commitment to IU

  • 05/01/2018 8:58 am in

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Rick Bozich of writes that there were a lot of “done deals” for Romeo Langford along the way, but ultimately Indiana and Archie Miller won out:

One reason Tom Crean was removed as the Indiana coach was he whiffed in his recruitment of the six straight Mr. Basketballs. Gifted in-state kids like Kyle Guy (Virginia), Kris Wilkes (UCLA), Jaren Jackson (Michigan State), Malik Williams (Louisville), Trevon Blueitt (Xavier) and Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern) did big things elsewhere this season. It was no longer cool to go to Indiana.

All Miller could say was that he planned to build his team by recruiting inside-out, scrambling to sign as many Indiana kids as possible.

That was a mandatory press conference soundbite, a remnant from the Bob Knight days. Crean had once said the same thing.

Skeptics laughed. College basketball has changed. Few coaches can protect their state borders. Crean won two Big Ten regular-season titles with guys from Maryland, Alabama, Virginia and New York as well as several Hoosiers.

What happened? How did Indiana get a recruit ranked the 6th best player in America?

Who knows? One thing that happened was that Miller didn’t get the memo that Indiana had no chance — and that some of the competition helped by eliminating itself.

Dana O’Neil of The Athletic spoke with Cody Zeller ($), who offered some words of wisdom to Langford:

Most people expect Langford to bolt after one season, but Zeller says that shouldn’t change the way he approaches his time in Bloomington. “Embrace every moment, even if it’s only a year,’’ Zeller says. “I didn’t approach my time at Indiana as a launching pad to the NBA. I wanted to be there. I wanted to work to build the program, and he can do the same thing, no matter how long he’s there. Indiana fans appreciate that. That’s what ultimately sets you apart, not just making the announcement today. Embrace the culture of Indiana.’’

Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star set the scene from New Albany as Langford announced his pledge to the Hoosiers:

It’s a sea of red here – New Albany red, IU red – and across the lawn and down Vincennes and around the corner onto McCaffry, way down McCaffry, is a young man named Ben Smith. He’s 18, a junior at Scottsburg High School about 30
miles away, where the rival crowd lined up for an hour the last time New Albany played there to get Romeo’s autograph.

“It’s that way everywhere we go,” Jim Shannon is telling me, himself an Anderson kid and a longtime IU fan dating to the days of Bob Knight, which is why this was so emotional for him as well. “But at Scottsburg it was longer than usual. I remember that.”

And this kid Ben Smith, he’s in line on Monday. Went to high school, then caught a ride to New Albany to watch Romeo pick – he hoped – his beloved Hoosiers. Smith couldn’t drive himself, you understand. He’s been a quadriplegic since he was 14 months old, when that car seat saved his life but couldn’t save his spinal cord during a crash. It couldn’t be easy for him to get here, I’m suggesting.

“Had to come,” Ben’s telling me. “For Romeo, and for IU.”

Jeff Borzello of breaks down the impact of Romeo Langford’s commitment to Indiana:

The state of Indiana made no secret of where it wanted Langford to play his college basketball. His high school games were jam-packed with Indiana fans, with long lines waiting for him postgame for autographs.

On decision day, the pull to stay home for college was too much to pass up.

Keeping Langford in-state for college is a huge early coup for Miller, especially after Indiana missed on all four ESPN 100 prospects from the state in the 2017 class. In fact, Langford’s commitment to Indiana is the first time since 2007, when Eric Gordon stayed home, that the Hoosiers have landed the top-ranked player from the state. During Tom Crean’s nine years at Indiana, the Hoosiers landed just five of the 35 ESPN 100 players from the state.

Josh Cook of The News and Tribune gives a rundown of the night’s proceedings, including Tim Langford’s comments before the announcement:

Tim Langford, meanwhile, pumped up the crowd with a few questions.

“I want to know how many Vanderbilt fans do we have in the house?” he asked.

That’s when the aforementioned Vandy fan made some noise.

“We got one in the house, OK that’s a good sign,” Tim Langford said.

Then he asked: “How many IU fans do we have in the house?”

The crowd erupted.

Finally, the Langford patriarch asked: “How many Kansas fans do we have in the house?”

He was met with a chorus of boos.

“Alright, Vanderbilt and Kansas are tied, that’s a good sign,” Tim Langford said. “A real good sign.”

Then he capped off his time on the raised stage with one final query.

“I want to know, how many Romeo Langford fans are in the house?”

The crowd roared.

Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated writes that landing Langford was bigger than any on court win Archie Miller had during his first season in Bloomington:

Langford’s decision arguably amounts to a bigger win than any Miller notched in his first season overseeing the program. After years of frustrating returns on in-state recruiting efforts toward the end of Crean’s tenure—including zero prospects ranked in the top 25 of the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI), a composite incorporating data from multiple scouting services, since 2014—the Hoosiers fended off several bluebloods for Indiana’s No. 1 player.

That Miller and his staff were able to prevail in a heated battle on their own turf for an elite prospect despite having very little to sell on the court at this point bodes well for the program’s future. With Langford in tow, Indiana will sign three of the class of 2018’s top four recruits in the state of Indiana, according to the 247Sports Composite. (The other two are four-star Riley High small forward Damezi Anderson and four-star McCutcheon High point guard Robert Phinisee.)

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  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    thank you CZ, it’s important for people to know you can have aspirations of playing in the nba and at the same embrace the culture of indiana. bloomington’s a special place, RL. enjoy it and make the most of it! and if you want to find some good used cd’s, go check out roscoe’s!

  • Hoosierkamp

    I Love IU

  • StudentHoosier

    Wow. With just 5 days before the conclusion of my undergrad career, I enjoyed one of the craziest experiences in my time here.

    Left at 1:30pm from Bloomington through Mitchell. Not a cloud in the sky, no traffic, just cruising through Southern Indiana. Even took a detour off of 60 to go through the small town of Saltillo (anybody on here know anything about it?). Got to NA in plenty of time. Per ITH recommendation, went to Sportstime Pizza! Got a pint, some pizza, some beer cheese while anxiously awaiting for 7pm. Went back to the school, tossed the pigskin around in line, chatted with fellow Hoosier fans. Witnessed history, heard of an afterparty going on at Hoopsters in Jeffersonville, decided why not and went too.

    Man, what a great day to be a Hoosier. Everything about yesterday was simply perfect. Obviously I loved what Romeo decided, but the thing that will most stick with me about the entirety of yesterday is Hoosier Nation. Typically only games in SSAH can showcase how passionate and loyal our fanbase is, so an event like this, on a Monday night at a high school a stone’s throw away from Kentucky, really brought the meaning of Hoosier Hysteria to life.

    Go Hoosiers. Go Romeo.

  • Arch Puddington

    Great post. Sounds like “Hoosiers” meets “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

  • IU Andy

    Cool post. I was right behind you in line and saw you @ Hoopsters. Great to see 4 Hoosiers from Bloomington make it down to our area. Glad your day went great.

  • Scott Osborne

    As a die hard IU fan this is emotional to say the least. Whatever R. Langford does on the court next year is added gravy to the win Hoosier Nation and Coach Miller got today. Coach Miller’s program is legit, and this along with D. Anderson and R. Phinisee,two more top players in the State of Indiana, can be the springboard for IU to be a top five National basketball program once again. We elder fans of IU that lived through Coach Knights era and success know the meaning of being a Hoosier. Now, the younger IU fans who weren’t around or were to young to know of this tradition now will get to see for themselves what all the hype has been about for the storied program we dearly love. Shout out to my good friend Coach Shannon, not only a great basketball mind but just a good person all around, and one that could achieve at the College level if given the chance. Best of luck R. Langford and welcome to IU Nation.

  • Far Away Hoosier

    Awesome post! Makes me want to move home! Go Hoosiers!

  • disqus_NXoSos1HEZ

    It’s finals week. Most of us seniors are already done and we’re just waiting for the grad ceremony on Saturday. Lesssss gooooo.

  • Ole Man

    Well said, Scott.
    And I’m not picking on them when I say I hope some of our “younger IU fans” do get the message and begin to love and support the program.
    As another “oldie” I understand, along with you, that the storied tradition isn’t about it being “trendy or cool” to attend a game, but to love and honor the rich history, wins and LOSSES, players, coaches, of Hoosier basketball.
    If they only come because of winning, let them stay at home and allow someone else to use that seat…somebody who comes because they love IU basketball

  • MikeinNC

    What a huge win for Archie and IU! Hope this becomes a regular tradition.

  • dwdkc

    Very nicely put, and I agree. It’s past time for the younger fans to get to enjoy what we did back in the 70s and 80s, seeing great basketball and knowing you had an advantage sitting on the sidelines. Thrilled not only because Romeo is a terrific player, but a terrific kid and role model for the program.

  • dwdkc

    Nice post, and congrats on graduating! Your day did sound pretty perfect and memorable. Glad you shared it

  • Darrell Allen

    For those young fans that wonder what Hoosier Mania is all about, I remember being stationed in Mannheim, Germany during the ’75-’76 seasons. Since Germany was 6+ hrs. ahead, everybody who was from Indiana in our area, met at our apartment to watch tournament games in the middle of the night and went to work with little sleep. I also recall the two starting guards on the USA team at the Albert Schweitzer tournament in 1975. One, later coached Shawn Kemp at Concord HS. Being Hoosiers, we took them both on a tour of Heidelberg and treated them with Hoosier hospitality. I also recall attending an exhibition basketball game in 1984, when Alford & Bird were on the Olympic team. RMK took the microphone & stated that ONLY in the state of Indiana, could you get 70,000 fans to show up for an exhibition BB game in July! Yes, Hoosier BB is alive and well and we all look forward to next year and the way ahead, as usual! Thank you Romeo!

  • Ole Man

    Great memory, Mr. Allen.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Guyton25

    The thing I’m most happy about is Archie.. when I saw Romeo pick up that IU hat, I thought to myself, son of a gun Archie actually did it! We all witnessed how he can enact real change on the court last season with how he successfully re-sculpted our defense in half a season… but the big question was can he recruit with the best of them? I think coming in late in the game and competing with Duke, UK, KU, Vandy, and the likes, and winning is an amazing testament to what Archie is going to be doing here at Indiana. The future is looking extremely bright. Especially when the 1-and-dones are over here soon and we’re not competing with D-league teams that just practice for the NBA.

  • Knight To AM Light

    The craziness of Indiana basketball fans is epitomized by the story of April 30 with my family:

    My father suffered a fairly serious health scare a few weeks ago. After weeks of tests and roller coasters of emotion, a fairly serious surgery was scheduled about one week ago for.. Monday, April 30, the day of Romeo Langford’s announcement.

    Dad’s surgery was meant to be fairly routine, a mid morning operation meant to be over by noon. Unfortunately his situation was “complicated” and “risky” according to his surgeon. After several tests, familial deliberation and hours of anxious worry, he went into surgery preparation at about 5:00 pm.

    A little while before, Dad asks what time it is.

    4:08 pm I tell him. He shakes his head as I laugh.

    “This better be over before 7:00,” I tell him.

    The surgery drug on a bit. We wait until 7:45, worried sick about what’s going to happen to him. It’s amazing where your mind goes in those situations. Finally the doctor comes down and gives us the good news, he’s fine. We embrace each other in tears and relief.

    My mother and older brother are the first to visit him. Relieved and excited, they are anxious to see him. They are also curious as to what his mental sanity is under the influence of the lingering anesthesia. My mother comes up to him ready to speak to a man she was terrified that she was going to lose only minutes before.
    She can’t wait to see him okay and to tell him she loves him.

    As they approach Dad he is lying in his hosptial bed with closed eyes and extreme fatigue. Is he awake, alert, and cohesive?

    Dads first words to his beloved wife following this rather serious surgery?

    “Where art thou Romeo?”

    Mother, confused by this seeming expression of poetic affection for his dear wife gives him a look of complete bewilderment. He must not be in his right mind!

    He looks at his son, barely able to speak, “Langford?!”

    My brother puts his fists up in the air and shares the news that we already had checked on minutes before. My father weak and in pain puts his fist up in the air in approval.

    April 30 was a good day. My father had an important and successful surgery. And Indiana basketball is catapulted back to national relevance under its new general.

  • Bballpop

    I just wish I would’ve had a camera with me to capture her response! Priceless!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    That is an incredible and wonderful post about the love for IU basketball and University. It shows how deep the feelings are with many families associated with IU. Thanks for this Knight. It brings back memories of my Dad and IU when he was alive.

  • Surferelm

    In the above Jeff Borzello statement (above) he writes that “In fact, Langford’s commitment to Indiana is the first time since 2007, when Eric Gordon stayed home, that the Hoosiers have landed the top-ranked player from the state.” Do you know why Zeller was excluded, or if I just missed something?


  • Hoosiernation1887

    Many recruiting sites had Marquis Teague ranked ahead of him despite his winning Mr. Basketball

  • Surferelm

    I remember now…thanks for the reminder!

  • AndyCapp

    What are cd’s? …jk

  • That’s an awesome story! First, great to hear that your dad’s doing well. That’s the most important thing. And second, that’s definitely the quintessential Indiana basketball story — and the only people who can understand it are Indiana basketball fans. At this point, I mean the state, not the school. But it applies either way.

  • coachv

    are you a writer?

  • coachv

    although i fully embrace all that indiana basketball represents, you could never get me to live there again. except bloomington


    Saltillo….lol….as a matter of fact I certainily do, as it’s in my home county of Washington. One of the many VERY small burgs located in one of the biggest counties (acreage wise) in the entire state. Did you stay on 60 to get there, or hit 65 after going throught Salem ?


    Well put….and oh yea, I as well fall into the ” oldie ” column and I’m just fine with that. lol


    Fist off, glad you’re dad made it through his surgery ok, been ther done that, the clock never runs as slowly as it does during that type of thing. Secondly… about your Kodak moments !!

  • Knight To AM Light