This column isn’t for Romeo Langford, a high school student used to a famous life. He’s good with it.
He has long been the pride of New Albany, a teenage celebrity who is adored the way few ever will be, and that’s not just because of his basketball ability. There are plenty of good basketball prospects, but there aren’t many Romeo Langfords, who’ll make appearances at kids’ birthday partiesjust because he’s asked, who’ll stick around for hours after games to sign autographs, who has steadfastly and unselfishly continued to be everything everyone expects him to be and asked for nothing in return.
It’s remarkable, frankly, and it has been for a while.
So we get it. This whole deal has been special. This cult of Romeo Langford that has developed in recent years is unique — even in the world of Indiana high school basketball — but it has happened for the right reasons.
Langford’s love of New Albany contributed to his decision to share the most long-awaited moment to date of his basketball career with the entire town. He’s not going to just put out some picture or video on Instagram. The nation’s top remaining uncommitted 2018 prospect is going to announce a college in front of his people at 7 p.m. Monday night, doing so at the New Albany High School gymnasium, thus ending a lengthy recruitment that has interested all of college basketball and enthralled its many, many fans in the state of Indiana.
This column, instead, is for them.
First off, to be clear, we do not have any idea who Langford will pick between finalists Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt (listed in alphabetical order). It could be any of the three.
But let’s all assume, for the sake of argument, that Langford isn’t going to bring together thousands of people Monday night and not select in-state Indiana.
It’s true that Langford recently told the IndyStar that he thinks New Albany’s fans “will support me either way, wherever I go,” and that’s probably true. Common sense, however, tells you that the Hoosiers look to be a heavy favorite in such a premeditated setting.
If it happens, Indiana’s fanbase, starved for a return to past glory and anxiously expecting Archie Miller to be the one to find it, will rejoice Langford’s arrival like few before him.
This could thus be a perfect storm. It has been built up too much and tracked too heavily. The basketball expectations for him at Indiana would be off the charts and maybe even unprecedented in Bloomington, which is a bold statement but perhaps a fitting one given the circumstances.
And that’s going to be — for lack of a better word — unfair to Langford.