5-Star Leads Team To Finals, Talks Tigers

Five-star guard Josh Langford has his team back in the Class 3A title basketball game. He talks about the semifinal win and his recent visit to Auburn.

Birmingham, Ala.--It wasn’t the start that five-star guard Josh Langford was looking for in Madison Academy’s semi-final matchup against Montgomery Academy on Tuesday. Scoring just two points in six minutes, foul trouble put him on the bench, but the junior rebounded in a big way in the second half as he scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists to lead the Mustangs into the 3A title game against Piedmont on Friday.

Hounded all game by a variety of Montgomery Academy players, Langford made just 5-14 shots on the day in 22 minutes. While that could have led to frustration for some star players, for Langford it meant picking up the rest of his game and allowing teammates such as KeKe Matthews, Will Acuff and Myles Parker to take up some of the slack in the win.

“It’s not really frustrating because great players are going to get attacked like that,” Langford said. “A really great player, you have to learn how to deal with that adversity. You have to embrace the adversity and move on. You have to put your ego aside and that ‘woe is me’ mentality. You just have to push through and keep playing.

“I have been through that the whole year,” he added. “I go through it every game. It’s just about me keeping my head and my teammates keep me encouraged. My coaches keep the confidence in me. It really doesn’t bother me.”

Drawing extra attention from the opposition is something Langford has dealt with since his eighth grade season with the Mustangs. Helping Madison Academy to the state title in 2013 and getting more pressure with every passing season, Langford has continued to grow as a player and Coach Andy Blackston said it has been enjoyable to watch.

“It’s a lot of fun being popular, but there’s also a lot of pressure when you’re as good as he is. He has to carry that a lot for our team, especially coming to this kind of stage with a lot of media and a lot of people watching. Josh does a tremendous job and his teammates love him.

“It’s a unique situation to have a player as talented as him," Blackston pointed out. "I thought he did a great job, especially after being in foul trouble and not in rhythm in the first half. He made some really good passes and finished some really good shots there late in the game when we needed it.

“He has grown so much into that. He has kind of been under the microscope since he was an eighth grader. He was the 3A Player of the Year as an eighth grader and the Gatorade Player of the Year as a ninth grader. Just to watch him mature and grow up and learn how to function under that pressure is going to serve him well at the next level. I’m happy with his progress.”

Now focused on winning another championship, Langford is also dealing with the attention from college coaches as teams from across the country were in attendance to see him play on Tuesday. Included in that group were Auburn, Alabama, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Virginia.

Auburn is a team making a push for Langford as he continues to check out the Tigers. Making a trip down to the Plains to see Auburn play two weeks ago, Langford had Bruce Pearl at one of his regional games last week and on Tuesday it was assistant Tony Jones. Saying that he sees a different side of Auburn’s program with Pearl at the helm, he said everything about his trip went well and he likes what he sees from the Tigers.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Langford said. “I think all of their games are sold out. I think the fanbase is great. Coach Pearl is doing a great job with what he has right now. He really doesn’t have his guys that he recruited so he’s doing a great job of getting those guys to buy in. I wish him the best of luck. Coach Pearl is a great coach and has a great staff around him. It was a great atmosphere.”

Madison Academy will face Piedmont in the Class 3A Finals at 5:30 p.m. Friday at BJCC Legacy Arena.

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