Unless you have been holed up in Basra the last few weeks, you've been watching a very exciting and athletic Keith Langford help lead his Kansas team to a Final Four berth in New Orleans. You've seen highs and low for seniors Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, who unquestionably will be top NBA draft considerations this June, but the playmaking athleticism of Langford is eye-catching.
So when you read about Keith's younger brother, Kevin Langford, who is an acclaimed junior in high school, you can't help but sit up and take notice. Sight unseen, you get excited about a brother in an instance like this because you know the genes are there. Both players have those long arms you love regardless of position, but there are a couple differences between the Langford brothers. Kevin has about four inches on his younger brother, but by all accounts does not possess that same level of athleticism. In fairness, that's a tradeoff you make between a wing player and a power forward, though talent evaluators and people in the Fort Worth (TX) area alike feel that Kevin is not likely to be quite the same player that Keith has been at Kansas.
You wouldn't know that from his list of schools, though. The younger Langford tells The Bootleg that he has winnowed down his list of schools to a current top five of Virginia, Stanford, Kentucky, Illinois and Kansas. He also note that he is receiving mail from Duke "every once in a while." All five are "kinda close right now," though the Cavaliers do stand out in that they are the first among his favorites to have made a firm scholarship offer at this early date. Langford has scheduled an official visit to Virginia later this spring, and has a general plan to take visits to all his favorite schools before he makes an informed decision.
Recruits are not allowed, by NCAA rules, to take an official trip to a campus until they have posted a standardized board score, though, so his trips will come later in the spring. He first has a date with the SAT on April 5, for which he has set his own personal goal of scoring 1100. This is a seriously academic young man who has never scored below an A in a class throughout high school, and for that reason alone Stanford fans are salivating. Langford is being primarily recruited by Stanford assistant coach Russell Turner, and the Texas junior says that much of their talk centers around academics and Stanford admissions. Turner also talks about the impact that Langford could have at Stanford. "From what he says, I would be a very key player in their program," the North Crowley standout reports. "I like to hear that. And of course Coach [Mike] Montgomery puts a lot of big men in the NBA."
It has been well documented that the Cardinal staff are looking for three post players in this 2004 recruiting class, and with center Peter Prowitt already admitted and committed to Stanford, that puts a greater emphasis on the power forwards. How does Langford stack up as a 'four' in this talented junior class? Recruiting guru Dave Telep of TheInsidersHoops provides some answers with his evaluation: "Another power forward prospect who, like Rob Kurz, will face up and keep defenses honest with his perimeter game. Also like Kurz, he needs to add strength to his frame. Basketball genes run deep as his brother is a starter at Kansas. He'll challenge for a spot in the Top 100."
Langford was a standout player in Ft. Worth this past season, taking his North Crowley team to the second round of the state playoffs while scoring 18 points, grabbing eight boards, and blocking 2.5 shots per game. He led his high school to a championship during the holidays in an area tournament, during which time I had the opportunity to watch him play. Very interesting, but the forward I saw was different from Telep's observations. I saw a blue collar player who picked up double-doubles by playing tough in the paint and out-jumping everybody on the floor for rebounds. He scored a lot of baskets on offensive boards, but showed the ability to put it on the floor and slash to the hoop. I saw very little of the high post game that Telep saw in his repeated observations last spring and summer. And that poses a very interesting question. Are we watching the evolution of a recruit? Is he transforming himself into a true power forward and not just an oversized wing forward?
For those answers, we will have to watch Langford and his AAU team closely this spring and summer. He again will play with the highly regarded Team Texas, and will be at the spring's first major national event the second weekend of April - the Boo Williams Invitational.
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