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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 02, 2018 1:00 am

Langford quietly learning IU way

Coach raves about freshman's ability

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – Moments after Romeo Langford committed to play for Indiana in April at his high school gym in New Albany, a throng of media surrounded him to ask about the decision. Langford answered their questions so softly that his responses were nearly inaudible to those standing only a few feet away.

Despite being the most hyped recruit to arrive in Bloomington since Cody Zeller, Langford is not loud, brash or boisterous. He's quiet on the court, but, as his Indiana teammates and coach have already learned, he still manages to stand out because of his jaw-dropping athleticism, willing passing and keen vision.

“I'm just coming here to play basketball and do my job, and that's all I'm focusing on, having a successful season with my teammates,” Langford said. “On and off the court, I'm not the most vocal person on the team.

“I like to lead by example, and coming as a freshman, I knew that there was seniors, and they know a little bit more than me.”

Coach Archie Miller has been impressed with the way Langford has handled his transition to the college game in his first weeks of workouts. The 2018 Indiana Mr. Basketball, one of the leading scorers in Indiana high school basketball history, led his New Albany team to a 25-2 record as a senior.

In other words, Langford has known nothing but success for a while. Miller said that Langford had spent so much time being “perfect” that when he made mistakes it was jarring for the freshman. According to his coach, Langford has gotten past that feeling and worked hard to improve.

“You could see almost a pressure or almost a, 'Wow, this isn't as easy as I maybe once thought,' ” Miller said of Langford's first workouts with the Hoosiers. “(He's a) guy that has learned week by week that it's OK to make a mistake. It's OK to understand that you're not going to be perfect and make every shot.”

If Langford's mental transition to the college level was a bit rocky at first, there were no such problems on the physical side of the game. There, the 6-foot-5 guard was never out of his depth. Miller has already name-dropped a couple of legends in his praise of Langford's raw ability.

“He just does things so easy and so smoothly,” the second-year Indiana coach said. “If he was a football player he'd be Randy Moss. If he was a track athlete, he'd probably be Usain Bolt or one of those guys.

“Just the stride, the elevation, quick jumps, second jumps, just the knifing through people, covering ground from rim to rim.”

Langford has not simply coasted on his physical gifts, however.

When he made his announcement in April, he was rail-thin and some wondered whether he'd be able to handle the physical world of Big Ten basketball.

Since arriving on campus, he has worked to allay that issue, adding 15 pounds of muscle through consistent work with strength and conditioning coach Clif Marshall. When he showed up at Media Day on Wednesday, Langford was noticeably bigger. 

“(Getting bigger and stronger) was a big emphasis for me,” Langford said. “Playing in the Big Ten, there's big guards, so I've got to be ready from the first game to match up with them physicality-wise.”

Though he's bulkier than he was, Langford's athleticism doesn't seem to have been affected. During the slam dunk contest at Hoosier Hysteria on Friday, he threw down one dunk after doing a cartwheel. As the crowd roared, Langford quietly smiled and walked back to his teammates.

Note: The Hoosiers have voted senior Juwan Morgan and redshirt junior Zach McRoberts their captains for the upcoming season, Miller announced Monday. Morgan was the Hoosiers' leading scorer and rebounder last season, while McRoberts is a former walk-on who started 17 games last year and led the team in steals.

dsinn@jg.net