INDIANAPOLIS – Romeo Langford sees me coming, and he doesn’t like. it. And you have to understand something: I love that he doesn’t like it. This kid isn’t like any I’ve ever covered, and I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years. But show me a high school kid who doesn’t like media attention, and I’ll show you …
Well, I’ll show you Romeo Langford.
What I’m showing you now is the New Albany locker room inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Bulldogs are trying to relax after beating Silver Creek 73-65 on Saturday. The game has been over for 15 or 20 minutes. Whatever media was here for the game, here for Romeo, they’ve come and they’ve gone. I can hear the Bulldogs as I enter the room, and now the room goes quiet. Romeo is across the way, this 6-5 giant surrounded by smaller teammates, and he sees me coming — sees the notepad and the pen — and looks down.
Sure, again. For the second time in less than 24 hours, Romeo has produced another quietly enormous game to pass another state scoring legend and break into the top 10 on the all-time Indiana scoring list.
On Friday night it was Mike Edwards (2,343 career points) he passed, the Greenfield gunner who went on to star at Tennessee, with Romeo scoring 33 points on 15 shots to lead New Albany past rival Jeffersonville and move into 11th place with 2,370 points. On Saturday, just a few minutes ago, he scored 35 points on 20 shots to pass former IU star James Blackmon Jr. (2,387 points at Marion and Fort Wayne Bishop Luers) for 10th place with 2,405 points.
Romeo is reeling them in now, one after another, hitting a spot in the state scoring list where the legends are bunched together. Next time New Albany plays, Romeo will pass former IU star Alan Henderson (2,419 points at Brebeuf) for ninth place. The game after that? He’ll probably pass Butler’s Billy Shepherd (2,465 points at Carmel) for eighth. The game after that? Well, Indiana State’s Cooper Neese (2,496 points as a beloved legend at Cloverdale) is in seventh. For now.
After this muted, almost gentle 35-point explosion on Saturday, Romeo is 228 points from fourth place. At his current scoring average of 32.6 ppg, he needs seven games to pass No. 6 Trevon Bluiett (2,568 points at Park Tudor), No. 5 Rick Mount (2,595 points at Lebanon) and No. 4 Brody Boyd (2,632 points at Dugger).
So anyway … yes. Again. And my first question to Romeo is less a question, more a comment, and a sincere one at that:
You’re getting tired of this, aren’t you?
Romeo is looking at me. He’s his father’s son, and his father sees outsiders with wary eyes. Everyone wants a piece of Romeo, and Tim Langford knows it, so he’s wary of the media, of college coaches, of anyone wanting a piece of his boy. And Romeo is the same way — but wary is fine. Wary feels normal, about the only thing about Romeo’s demeanor that does feel normal.
He’s just not like everyone else, is what I’m saying, not normal even for the abnormal level of state superstar he has reached. Put it this way: Romeo needs a nap. That’s what I’m thinking, every time I see him, and always it’s inside a packed basketball gymnasium with fans screaming and cameras rolling and teammates bouncing and Romeo just looking so darned …
He’s not bored, I don’t think, but his facial expression doesn’t change, even when he’s warming up Saturday for a game about to be played on an NBA court and televised on Fox Sports Indiana. His expression doesn’t change even when the Fox pregame show is playing on the giant Bankers Life Fieldhouse scoreboard overhead and someone up there is saying Romeo Langford “is as good as anybody (we’ve) seen in the state, including Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird.”