Family advice can aid any life decision, and Tellus Langford sought some from a distant cousin – Jeffery Langford, father of former Michigan State running back Jeremy – as he began to look into MSU.
The word was all positive. Tellus didn’t stop there, though, in trying to find out about the school his son – consensus national top-20 basketball prospect Joshua Langford – favored amid suitors such as Duke and Kentucky.
He called former MSU guard Travis Walton. He talked to former MSU big man Zach Randolph. He got in touch through a mutual friend with Gary Harris, father of the former MSU guard with the same name. He wanted to know what it was really like to play for Tom Izzo.
“I talked to a lot of people – I mean, I did my investigation to a ‘T’ and there was not one person who could say anything negative about the program,” Tellus told the Free Press. “Coach Izzo has this great love-hate relationship with his players, he coaches those guys hard, he pushes them hard, but they all come back. Everyone talks about family, but at Michigan State it’s a real thing.”
And Joshua is now part of it, after calling Izzo and primary recruiter Dane Fife on Sunday evening, a three-way conversation to give his verbal commitment. The “five-star” 6-foot-6, 200-pound combo guard from Huntsville, Ala., and nearby Madison Academy joins big man Nick Ward (Gahanna, Ohio) in an MSU class of 2016 that 247Sports.com now ranks No. 2 in the nation.
MSU made the somewhat unorthodox move of setting up an official visit for Langford and his family last week — risky because if it didn’t result in a commitment, that card would have been played and other suitors would still have theirs to use in the rest of the summer and fall. But before it was complete, Langford said, he knew.
He also said MSU fans, still stinging after 2015 big man Caleb Swanigan gave MSU a verbal before backing out and signing with Purdue, shouldn’t fret until he and the rest of the class can sign binding letters of intent in November.
“Once I’m in, I’m all in,” said Langford, who averaged 24.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a junior for Madison Academy, after a broken bone in his left wrist hindered his sophomore season. “I’m not the kind of person who would ever go back on a commitment, I don’t believe in that. I want this (recruiting) all to be over so I can focus on my senior season and college.”
MSU was Langford’s only official visit, but he previously took unofficial visits to suitors Duke, Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. He also considered Arizona, Mississippi State, Stanford and Texas among his finalists.
On the court, some have compared his game with MSU senior-to-be Denzel Valentine, a do-everything wing player. The 247Sports.com composite ranking of various services lists him as the nation’s No. 13 prospect, the same ranking ESPN.com gives him. He’s No. 10 according to Scout.com and No. 17 per Rivals.com.
“He’s one of the elite prospects in the country,” Scout.com national analyst Brian Snow said of Langford. “He’s a good athlete, he can shoot and score, he’s very versatile defensively – he can guard anybody on the perimeter. There’s no glaring weakness in his game.”
MSU’s reputation as a program that plays great defense was a draw for Langford, he said, and a conversation with MSU sophomore point guard Tum Tum Nairn helped sell him.
“I talked to Tum Tum, and it just felt right — I feel like I have a connection with him and, really, all their players,” Langford said. “Basically, once you’re a Spartan, you’re always a Spartan. At other schools, the game will be over and guys will break into different groups. At Michigan State, everyone is together, and I think that’s a big reason they made the Final Four last year. Talent-wise, it didn’t look like they would make it that far, but a lot of it was about how they were off the court.”
MSU’s basketball style “fit me perfectly,” Langford said.
“I consider myself a basketball player,” he said. “I love making plays for others but I can score at all three levels and I think I can do that in college. I can offensive rebound and defensive rebound, and I think coach Izzo can make me a great defender. I think I will be able to guard 1 through 4 in college. I want to be great and I’m self-motivated, but I know Michigan State will push me.”
Tellus Langford said he and his wife actually encouraged Joshua to take more visits but that his son “is absolutely set on this.”
Joshua said he intended to get going right away on recruiting some of MSU’s other 2016 targets, such as U-D Jesuit High point guard Cassius Winston and Huntington (W. Va.) Prep wing Miles Bridges. MSU also was to have 7-2 Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu in for a visit Monday, according to CBSSports.com.
And Michigan State may not be done recruiting members of the Langford family. Tellus said daughter Jaden, a 5-7 point guard who started on varsity for Madison Academy last season as a seventh-grader, attended an MSU women’s camp while the family visited last week.
“I think they were very impressed with her,” he said.