Romeo Langford, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, is currently projected as the 10th-best prospect in HoopsHype’s aggregate mock draft. As a freshman at Indiana, he averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 threes, while shooting 44.8% from the field and 27.2% from three. In November, he tore a ligament in his thumb on his shooting hand and played through the pain (until undergoing surgery last month). He has a lot of fans in NBA front offices because, at just 19 years old, he still has a ton of untapped potential.
HoopsHype caught up with Langford to discuss his health, his pre-draft training, what he’s hoping to showcase during the pre-draft process, who he is off the court, the players he models his game after, questions about his motor and more.
You had a back injury late in the season and you recently had surgery to repair a torn ligament in your thumb. How are you feeling now and where are you at in your recovery?
Romeo Langford: My back feels fine. I took a couple weeks off after we lost [in the NIT] and it’s back to normal now. My thumb is fine. Now, I’m just in the process of going through rehab and getting the cast off. But I’m getting back to being able to do things on the court. I don’t have a timetable [to resume basketball activities]; I just have to wait for the doctors to clear me.
As the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, you were one of the best finishers in the country. Is that something you’ve worked on a lot and how do you think that will translate to the NBA?
RL: Oh yeah, that’s definitely one thing that I’ve worked on a lot. When I first got to Indiana’s campus, it’s was one of the first things I worked on. The coaching staff had me working on that because they knew that I was going to be the primary ball-handler. Also, I knew at the next level that pick-and-rolls are really big. They’re a big thing in the NBA, so it’s one of those things I’ll always work on. And finishing at the rim has always been one of my go-to specialties when I’m on the court.
What are the main things you can bring to an NBA team – on and off the court?
RL: On the court, I think I can bring whatever the team needs just because of how versatile I am. If the team needs me to be a defender, I’ll be a defender. If the team needs me to be a glue guy, I’ll be a glue guy. Also, just scoring. That’s my main thing, being able to score baskets. Basketball is about putting the ball in the rim and that’s my go-to. But I’ll bring whatever. With how versatile I am, I can do whatever the team needs me to do. … I just feel like that the way I’m built helps me a lot, with my height (6-foot-6) and my wingspan (6-foot-11). Not only does it help me on the offensive end, it also helps me on the defensive end since I’m able to be versatile and guard players who are taller than me and players who are shorter than me.
Then, off the court, I’m just that guy that [focuses] on whatever anyone needs. I can be a sponge. I like taking in knowledge from older guys, so if that’s my role – the traditional rookie role – I can do that. I can also be a leader when the time comes, if that’s needed on the team.
What are the areas of your game that need to improve and that you’re working on?
RL: Really, I’ve just been working on my ball-handling a lot. At the next level, I feel like teams may need me to play point guard, so therefore I need to get my ball-handling even tighter. I know that I can play the one because I’ve always had the ball in my hands growing up and also this past season in college. So really my ball-handling is the main thing I’ve been working on since I’ve had this cast on. It’s basically the only thing I’m able to do, just working on my left hand and just getting that stronger and stronger.
Are there any specific players that you study or model your game after?
RL: I just recently started studying a lot of Kobe Bryant because the way he plays isn’t too flashy. He just takes what the defense gives him, gets to his spots and makes shots. There’s not too much fancy dribbling and stuff like that. With him, it’s just basic stuff that gets the job done.
There were some people who questioned your motor or aggressiveness last season. Teams will likely ask you about that since it’s been mentioned. What’s your response for people who say that?
RL: I mean, I don’t do all of that extra yelling and stuff that most people with “great motors” do, I guess. But once you’re on the court and once you play against me, you’ll see how much of a motor I have and how hard it is to guard me and how hard it is just to keep up with me on the court. You’ll realize that I am very active. Also, my teammates all know about my motor, with how much I practice and how much work I put in during game and practices.
Has it sunk in that you’re going to be drafted by an NBA team next month?
RL: Nah, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. I was just thinking about that. I was talking with my agent and we were talking about how at this time just a year ago, I was still in high school. I was taking tests and I hadn’t even graduated yet at this time last year! Now, I’m in the process of possibly getting drafted by an NBA team in the next couple of weeks…
I read that you’re very close with your family and that you credit your family for a lot of your success. What are some of the biggest things you have learned from your parents?
RL: They keep me humble and they stress taking everything day by day – don’t get too high and don’t get too low. I feel like that’s what really got me to the point I’m at today. I take that with me and I always try to think that way – on and off the court.
How would you describe who you are off the court? Do you have any hobbies?
RL: I’m a fun guy. I feel like I’m funny. I mean, if you ask anybody who’s around me and they say I’m not funny, they’re lying to you or they’re just hating on me (laughs). But yeah, I’m a funny guy, I’m talkative and I like being around my friends a lot. I like playing videos games with my friends. And one thing that people don’t really know about me is that I used to play the trumpet when I was younger. I like music a lot.
Who are your favorite musicians or artists?
RL: My favorite artist is Michael Jackson. He’s my all-time favorite. I can listen to him at any time of the day – before a game, after a game, whenever.
What are some of the things you want to show teams during your workouts and meetings?
RL: During the meetings, I think the main thing is my personality. If you’re on the outside and you don’t really know me, you don’t really get to see who I am. I want each team to get to know me and get a feel for who I am. I want to show them that I’m not the quiet, shy person that a lot of people think I am. Then, in my workouts, I just want teams to realize how much I love the game and the passion that I have to get better and that I really am a dog. [I want them to know] that I have that in me.
You’ve said before that you really value education and that you wanted to get your degree. I also read that your favorite classes in high school were Math and Calculus. Do you think you’ll try to go back to school at some point to get your degree?
RL: Yeah, I’m definitely going back to school at some point in the future because I want to get my degree. The major I want to stick with is something around sports media because when I get done playing, I want to be able to stay in that realm of basketball and sports.
The NBA-pre-draft process can be pretty crazy. But you were a five-star recruit and you received a ton of interest from top college programs when you were in high school. Do you think that experience prepared you for the pre-draft process a bit?
RL: I think all of my experiences helped me. The things I did in high school and then going through the college [selection] process really prepared me, so this really is not too overwhelming. I know this is part of it. And it’s not something I dislike. I’m actually enjoying this and it hasn’t been too much of a hassle.
Some players look at the mock drafts, some players try to avoid them entirely. Do you look at any mock drafts to see what they’re projecting?
RL: I avoid them, but I mean with the internet and social media these days, I still sometimes see them. I always see them come across my mentions and people always tell me about them, so I just leave it to the other people around me to tell me [what the mock drafts are projecting] because I know they will once they see it.
Are there any specific NBA players that you’re excited to face off against next season?
RL: I’m not going to lie, I just can’t wait to experience the NBA in general. It’s just always been a dream of mine as I was growing up and now I’m going to be able to play against the guys I grew up watching like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and all those high-caliber guys that I wish to be on the same level as one day. It’s just overwhelming. It’s mind-blowing and truly a blessing.