When Romeo Langford was in the seventh and eighth grades, he took note of the list of names that began to pop up on various middle school basketball ranking lists.
More to the point, he noticed his name was not on them.
“Romeo, you can’t go by what other people are saying,” his mother, Sabrina Langford, told him. “When people come to see that person, they are going to be seeing you, too. It’s all going to work out eventually.”
Call it a mother’s intuition – it has worked out. Langford, after a heralded and record-breaking four-year high school basketball career at New Albany, was named IndyStar Mr. Basketball, presented by the Indiana Pacers, on Sunday night at the annual IndyStar Sports Awards. Langford, a McDonald’s All-American, is the first Mr. Basketball from New Albany.
“It was one of my goals going into high school,” Langford said. “I didn’t really start thinking I was good at basketball until my freshman year, probably. Then I realized I could play and compete with older guys.”
The 6-5 Langford, who will make his much-anticipated college announcement on Monday night at New Albany from between Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt, was a decisive winner in the Mr. Basketball vote.
Langford was named on 264 of the 294 ballots submitted by coaches and media. Evansville Bosse guard Mekhi Lairy was the runner-up with 11 votes and McCutcheon’s Robert Phinisee was third with six votes. Tindley’s Eric Hunter, Ben Davis’ Aaron Henry and South Bend Riley’s Damezi Anderson also received multiple votes and were finalists for the annual award given to the state’s top senior basketball player. Langford received the highest percentage of votes (.898) since Eric Gordon in 2007 (.911).
It was not just Langford’s statistics and the highlight-reel plays that impressed New Albany coach Jim Shannon. It was how the teenager handled the spotlight – especially through his senior season – that seemed to intensify with each game. Even after a heartbreaking 64-62 last-second loss to Warren Central in the Class 4A semistate at Seymour to end his high school career, Langford stood outside the locker room and signed autographs and posed for photos.
“Being put up on a pedestal like that, very often they fall off of it sooner or later,” said Shannon, who has coached at New Albany for 20 seasons. “He doesn’t seem to do that – ever. I’ve never seen him mess up in an interview or signing an autograph after a game or going to a visit wherever we visit. He never complained. All the attention he received and he’s still ‘yes sir, no sir.’ People really like him. He’s easy to like.”
Langford made a run at Damon Bailey’s all-time boys basketball state scoring record of 3,134 points set in 1990, finishing with 3,002 to rank fourth. Langford, who missed three games due to injury during his high school career, averaged 35.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a senior for the 25-2 Bulldogs.