Photo Credit: CBS Sports
When Romeo Langford committed to IU in April 2018 he was viewed as a Messiah, the Prince that is Promised and the savior of a Hoosiers program that has been struggling for over 20 years to regain its position as one of the Blue Blood programs in college basketball. He was the piece that would push IU back into the national title race. After a 17-15 record that saw a 12-2 start followed by a 1-12 stretch, Langford, the team’s most talented player and leading scorer heads into the likely final stretch of his Indiana career with a complicated legacy.
There are few players in the country that have been under as much pressure and scrutiny as Romeo Langford this season. Being the best player from basketball-crazed Indiana and committing to play for the Hoosiers is no small undertaking. It brings along immense expectations and elevates the already lofty goals of the team. For the most part, Langford lived up to his on the court expectations averaging 16.5 points per game along with 5 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 45% from the field. However, those numbers hide some ugly performances including single-digit scoring performances twice against rival Purdue, at home against #5 Michigan, the Hoosiers upset win over #6 Michigan State and against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. Langford seemed to fade into the background when the lights were brightest, and the pressure ratcheted up in close or must win games.
The most important thing Romeo will leave behind from his time at IU is that he made going to IU cool again. When breaking down the season with some fellow IU fans after the disappointing loss to Ohio State, one pointed out that Romeo’s commitment was the beginning of a new era of IU recruiting. During the final few years of Tom Crean’s tenure as coach, the Hoosiers struggled to recruit the state of Indiana and sign the top recruits from the state. Langford’s commitment was the first step in reestablishing IU as the premier place to play college basketball for players from Indiana. With commitments for the 2019 class from likely Indiana, Mr. Basketball Trayce Jackson-Davis and 4-star recruit Armaan Franklin, Archie Miller and his staff are proving they will lock down the state and have as many of the top recruits as possible playing in the Cream and Crimson. They can all thank Romeo Langford for helping to bring those guys to IU.
The complicated legacy Romeo Langford will leave behind at IU will likely trouble and confuse fans for years to come. His up and down on-court performances made this season infuriating and extremely disappointing. However, the indirect impact he has and will have on recruiting for years to come should help push IU back into contention as the talent collection in Bloomington builds. With only one more guaranteed game left in the college basketball career of Romeo Langford, IU fans can only hope he shows up one last time and puts on a show and leaves for the NBA on a high note, or comes back for one more year to change the narrative on his legacy.