The day after Romeo Langford announced his decision to attend Indiana on April 30, my boss and I had a conversation about what that would mean for IU basketball.
Truthfully, it’s difficult to completely grasp the magnitude of Langford’s decision.
There are a few different layers to the significance of Langford choosing IU.
From a journalistic standpoint, it’s obviously going to be a ramped up continuation of Romeo-mania.
Had Langford chosen Vanderbilt or Kansas, there still would have been an interest in the pride of New Albany from afar but nothing like it will be on a daily basis now that he has chosen the Hoosiers.
Take the Indiana All-Star series with Kentucky for example. With two other IU players — McCutcheon’s Rob Phinisee and South Bend Riley’s Damezi Anderson — on the roster, there would have been some interest for sure. And of course, Langford, even if he had picked another school, would have played and worn the state’s No. 1 jersey and still been a huge draw.
But factor in that Langford is one of three players on the roster headed for IU in the fall, and the Hoosier lovefest will simply be taken to another level.
I’m guessing both the June 8 game in Louisville and the June 9 game in Indianapolis will draw significant extra fan interest from the IU faithful simply because Langford will be in the games.
In terms of covering the No. 6-ranked player in the nation when he puts on an IU uniform, there will also be a media frenzy.
The truth is there won’t be a saturation point.
The reality is you could write a Langford story every week — maybe more than one a week — and people would eat it up. This is the player Indiana fans have coveted for so long and now he has chosen to play his college basketball (probably for only a year) in Bloomington.
It was kind of that way with Eric Gordon back in 2007. It was certainly that way with Damon Bailey when he left Bedford North Lawrence to attend IU.
But that’s just the hype side. That’s just what it means from a media standpoint.
The bigger question is how much can Indiana fans really expect from the Hoosiers after picking up a player of Langford’s abilities? The truth is Langford is the crown jewel in what was already a good class.
What we know is the incoming recruiting class is loaded. Along with Langford, Phinisee and Anderson — three of the six finalists for the state’s Mr. Basketball award ultimately won by Langford — there’s 6-foot-7 power forward Jerome Hunter from Pickerington, Ohio. After Langford, Hunter is the next highest ranked recruit at No. 55 by rivals.com.
So you have a 6-foot point guard in Phinisee, a 6-6 small forward in Anderson, a 6-5 shooting guard in Langford and a 6-7 power forward in Hunter. The final piece in the class is a 6-8 power forward in Jake Forrester from Norristown, Pa.
In other words, the class has a little bit of everything.
But it’s when you add that incoming class to what Indiana has coming back that it begins to look like a team that should be able to compete for a Big Ten championship.
This is provided All-Big Ten forward Juwan Morgan returns, and most people expect that to happen.
Add in De’Ron Davis, Al Durham, Devonte Green, Justin Smith and Zach McRoberts and you have a good nucleus to build around.
Throw in graduate transfer Evan Fitzner from Saint Mary’s, and Indiana looks loaded at several positions. Fitzner is a 6-10 forward who is a career 41.5 percent 3-point shooter.
And any Indiana basketball fan can tell you how much IU needed a legitimate 3-point shooter last season. Fitzner clearly fills a major void there.
Basically, Langford was the final piece in the puzzle.
There is a lot that has to come together between now and the start of the 2018-19 season in terms of team chemistry and fitting new players into the system, but Indiana basketball is certainly off to a good start.
As for media coverage? Sit back and watch Romeo-mania get taken to a completely different level.