From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Junior guard, Madison (Ala.) Academy
Greatness Present: Since capturing Gatorade Alabama Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors as a freshman, Langford’s search for a second such honor has been plagued by injuries, as a left wrist fracture cost him the final 12 games of his sophomore season and left metacarpal surgery on his hand kept him out for the past month.
Langford sustained his latest injury when he jammed his left middle finger while grabbing one of nine rebounds in a 62-60 loss to crosstown rival Bob Jones on Dec. 5. Despite suffering the injury in the opening quarter, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound junior guard still scored a team-high 27 points in defeat. It was particularly lousy timing, as the 17-year-old had just scored his 2000th point as a prep less than a week earlier.
A month later, Langford returned in top form, reinserting himself into the POY conversation and vaulting Madison Academy (10-10) back into contention to make a deep run in the postseason. In his first game back, he collected 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in a 74-37 victory over Lauderdale County. The Mustangs won six straight following Langford’s Jan. 3 comeback, thanks in large part to performances like his 30-point effort to lead a blowout of Bob Jones in their rematch last week.
In all, Langford has averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists this season, recording an impressive true shooting percentage (59.9).
Greatness Past: As an eighth-grader, Langford won the first of three straight Class 3A Player of the Year honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association. During his ensuing Gatorade POY campaign of 2012-13, he averaged 23.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists, leading the Mustangs (23-12) to the Class 3A state championship as a freshman. Langford produced 22.8 points, 5.5 boards and 3.7 assists per contest during his sophomore season before the left wrist injury dashed his hopes of either a POY or title repeat shortly before the playoffs began.
Greatness Future: Ranked as the No. 14 recruit in the Class of 2016 as rated by ESPN, Langford owns scholarship offers from the who’s who of Division I college basketball programs, including UConn, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.