New Albany was overmatched Thursday night, pitted against prep powerhouse La Lumiere, but Romeo Langford didn’t get the memo.
In front of a nationally-televised audience at historic New Castle Fieldhouse – with head coaches and representatives from Louisville, Kansas, Duke and Purdue, among others, looking on – the five-star guard hung 40 points on USA TODAY’s top-ranked team in the Lakers, who boast four ESPN 100 recruits.
If it wasn’t already, Langford made his name known with a vicious one-handed dunk, plus the foul, in the fourth quarter over La Lumiere’s Jaren Jackson Jr., a 6-foot-11, 226-pound five-star forward. The play was featured on Sportcenter’s Top 10 plays Thursday evening.
ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi had a front-row seat for Langford’s performance as he called the game for ESPN2. The former head coach said Langford’s scoring ability is unmatched in the Class of 2018.
“He’s still early in his development, but he’s a gifted scorer,” Biancardi said. “He’s a natural scorer. When he’s covered, he has the instincts to make the pass, which I like. So he doesn’t have tunnel vision. He has great scoring instincts and the ability to make the pass at the right time to the open teammate. I think he’s a difference-maker as he continues to grow, in the high school game and certainly when he gets to college.”
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Biancardi is particularly impressed by Langford’s demeanor. Following Romeo’s highlight-reel dunk Thursday night – in which he appeared to take a shot to the face – the teen simply got up and walked to the free-throw line.
“He’s very humble,” Biancardi said. “He’s a hard worker. He knows he’s the show, but he just really wants to be a part of the team. That type of approach and attitude is going to take him a long way. He’s a guy that you want to be a teammate with, because you know he cares about the team. He makes winning a priority. I think that makes him special with all his talent.”
“He’s one of those special guys in the (2018) class. … I think his upside is still, right now, unlimited.”
Langford’s 40-point performance ranks seventh in school history. Romeo owns the Bulldogs’ top three single-game scoring totals (46, 44, 44). With 18 points at home Tuesday vs. second-ranked Carmel, Langford can solidify himself as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“It’s amazing,” coach Jim Shannon said. “What he’s been able to do in a high school atmosphere – just take what you get. For him to be able to do what he’s done, it’s very special. Very, very special.”