You know that assassin movie? You know -- the one with the unsuspecting man in a suit carrying a briefcase? He could be a banker, he could be a lawyer, he could be anything. He walks down the street with a straight face. You see him, but you can’t identify him because the sunglasses cover his eyes. You know the role, but you don’t know the character because he’s so emotionless. He walks into the high-rise and makes his way up the fire exit stairs. He reaches the roof and pins the door shut with an idle chair. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pair of black leather gloves, whistling to himself as he pulls them over his hands. He cracks his neck, his knuckles, and his back and opens the briefcase. He continues on with the whistling as he assembles the long rifle with a 75-yard scope. He inserts the magazine and screws the suppressor onto the muzzle. He makes his way to the edge of the roof and waits for his target. The assignment emerges from the backseat of a black Lincoln. He disengages the safety and pulls back the bolt handle. The bullet is loaded up and locked into the chamber. He takes one deep breath, waits for the cross-hairs to settle, and pulls the trigger.
This man is a different kind of killer. He’s just as quiet, just as hard to read, but he doesn’t take lives. His name is Romeo Langford, and he goes unnoticed--until he makes you notice him. The first thing you notice about him is that he is not too “big time” to defend. He aggressively makes his man uncomfortable, staying committed to his stance and glued to his match-up’s hip. He uses his 6’11” wingspan to force turnovers, averaging just under 1 steal per game for his home-state Indiana Hoosiers. When his assignment has had enough and passes the rock off to a teammate, Langford doesn’t stop. In fact, he demonstrates his high basketball IQ. He drops to a mutual spot between his man and the ball and waits. Romeo keeps his head on a swivel, remaining well-engaged and aware, eager to pounce on a cross-court pass that he can tip and push to start a fastbreak opportunity.
On the other side of the court, Langford sets the offense up and then lingers off of the ball. He makes you forget he exists until the ball comes back his way. Then, Romeo makes sure you never forget him again. He utilizes quick, burst dribble moves to evade double-teams and traps. Once the 5-star recruit turns the corner, you’re already dead. Always composed, Langford doesn’t rush while assessing his options. His first move is to utilize his extremely quick first step to create space to attack the basket. From there, he surveys the floor, looking for those 2.4 assists per game he averages at Indiana University. If he sees a defender rushing to stop him, Romeo lures him in and then hits a teammate with a beautiful pass for a layup. If his attack originates on the perimeter with his back to the basket, he will sense the pressure coming and hit a shooter with an open look. If he decides that his teammates don’t have the open look, he will execute you, himself, by finishing a right-handed layup through contact or launching above the rim for a vicious dunk. Langford can get to the rim at will. Even on his best play, Romeo Langford shows no emotion. He remains calm and focused on the task at hand. The Indiana native is never too high and never too low.
His composure shows when he shoots the ball, and it reflects his sense of self-confidence. He’s just as willing to shoot jumpers as he is layups. While his shot selection is concerning at times, he will not shy away from shooting. His jump shot is most deadly when he creates for himself from 15-18 feet away, but he is a capable three-point shooter when his feet are set and shoulders squared. The methodical nature of his shot selection is a testament to his basketball IQ. He tends to begin games favoring mid-range jumpers until he gets comfortable. As the game progresses, sometime between the late stages of the first half and the early minutes of the second half, he steps out to the three-point line. This carries through with the rest of his scoring, as well. As he settles into the game, Romeo begins to heat up and becomes much more aggressive en route to his 17.2 points per game. Shooting 47.3% from the field, what makes Romeo all the more frustrating to defend is that he will always get to his spot when he wants to score.
While Langford is an assassin, he’s not perfect -- no prospect is. When he extends his range out to the three-point line, his jump shot develops a hitch and often falls short. His conversion rate shows it -- he’s shooting 21.1% from beyond the arc in his freshman season at Indiana. When the ball is out of his hands, Langford hovers around the perimeter non-aggressively and inactively. When the ball is in his hands and he gets “the look” in his eye, his defender angles to Langford’s right by default because he knows Romeo doesn’t trust his left hand. Although I see a multi-faceted offensive skill set coupled with a dedication to defense and a high IQ, I think he is a late-lottery pick right now. If he stays in school for one more year to hone his skills, he is a top-5 pick in next summer’s draft.
Romeo Langford shows no emotion. You can’t upset him or make him rush. He remains composed at all times. And then, he strikes. Like a contract killer, the Dejounte Murray-Paul George hybrid is silent but deadly.
Written By: Austin Krell