Why Romeo Langford should choose Vanderbilt

Photo via 247sports.com

For Vanderbilt, next season already feels like a dream.

The Commodores currently sit at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference as the only team with a losing record, but the disappointing aura that usually surrounds an underachieving team is nowhere to be found.  Instead, there exists a layer of optimism toward the future, a hope that despite the imminent loss of three seniors, Vanderbilt can reinvent itself as a force to be reckoned with.

That hope rests on the shoulders of the nation’s fifth best recruiting class, a group that already features the two highest-ranked recruits in the history of the program in Darius Garland and Simi Shittu, in addition to another top-100 player in Aaron Nesmith.  Yet, Vanderbilt’s work still isn’t done. For the third time this year, the Commodores have the opportunity to reel in their best recruit to date.

Romeo Langford is the number five recruit in the country, the top-ranked shooting guard, and the best overall player to still not make his collegiate commitment, according to ESPN.  He’s also a virtual lock to be this year’s Mr. Basketball in the great state of Indiana, and is closing in on Damon Bailey’s high school scoring record.  And like so many high school seniors at this time of year, Langford has yet to make up his mind on where he plans to attend school next year.  The 6’5 shooting guard from New Albany cut his list down to three schools a couple months ago, stating that he’d play for Kansas, Vanderbilt, or Indiana next season.

Most of his statesmen expect Langford to stay at home and play for the Hoosiers, while others expect for him to take the usual path and play for a proven blue blood program in Kansas.  The odd team out is Vanderbilt, and while the Commodores might be the unconventional choice, Langford would be best served playing his basketball in Memorial Gym come November.

Let me be clear: Romeo Langford will probably be one of the best players in college basketball no matter where he ends up next season, and will probably be a very talented NBA player at that.  Having said that, it’s still an extremely difficult decision, one that might prove vital in navigating his way toward a professional career.

And that’s really the end goal here.  Romeo Langford will not spend more than nine months on a college campus, and as long as no rule exists precluding one-and-dones, why would he?  He is a pro-style shooting guard with an elite jumper and plus athleticism that has the potential to make an instant impact, not to mention rake in millions of dollars in the process.  Why put that on hold?  The question for Langford boils down to what school gives him the best pathway to the NBA?  The answer to that question is Vanderbilt.

In the interest of Indiana basketball fans that haven’t slammed their computers shut by now or thrown my credibility out the window as a Vanderbilt student, let’s start with why he should not stay at home and play for the Hoosiers.  For starters, Indiana is the worst team of the three options.  Kansas is routinely one of the top programs in the nation, and Vanderbilt’s top recruiting class, compounded by the breakout play from Saben Lee this year, puts them a notch over the cream and crimson as well.  Indiana is losing its top two scoring guards, and is nowhere near competing for a Big Ten title.  Langford won’t be able to change that on his own, and therefore won’t get the same exposure that he would get playing for a contender, which could hurt him come draft day.

The part of playing for Indiana that would hurt him the most, however, is Archie Miller.  I’m not writing off Miller as the coach of the future in Bloomington.  He certainly seems like an upgrade from Tom Crean, but his brand of basketball isn’t one that would get the most out of Langford.  Crean ran a system that leaned on his superstars to run the offense and make plays.  When he had the elite superstars on the floor to get the job done (think Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr.), he was fine, but without top talent, he wasn’t able to win games.  Miller is the antithesis of this.  He runs a team with a 3-and-D mentality, one that prides itself on ball movement into good shots on offense and a feisty man-to-man approach on defense.  It’s a system like this that allowed him to consistently knock off power five foes during his time at Dayton.  While Miller has expressed a desire to create an in-state pipeline, it’s doubtful that he would abandon his system to create situations where Langford would be the outright focal point of the offense and have the ability to grow into that superstar role.  Bloomington just isn’t the best place for Langford to showcase the talent he has as a high-volume scorer.

That leaves Kansas and Vanderbilt, and the prominence and consistency of the program give the Jayhawks an edge.  But the pros pretty much stop there.  Devonte’ Graham, LaGerald Vick, and Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas’s top three players, will all be moving on to the NBA, leaving Kansas with an unprecedented lack of veteran presence at the guard position.  With the usually high expectations in Kansas, a lot of weight will be placed on Langford’s shoulders to keep up an improbable run of Big 12 championships that might reach 15 straight seasons after this year.  That’s a high risk for a player who won’t have the help that fans in Kansas are used to, and it could hurt his stock.  Additionally, Langford has a life outside of basketball.  He can either spend it in Nashville or in Lawrence, Kansas.  I’ll leave it at that.

If I was Romeo Langford, I’d be sitting at home in a Vanderbilt sweatshirt texting Darius Garland and asking him to be my roommate.  That National Letter of Intent would be in my rearview mirror.  He has the opportunity to play for a coach in Bryce Drew who understands the life of a Mr. Basketball coming from Indiana.  Drew carried that distinction to a six-year NBA career with much less talent than Langford possesses.

Most of all, Vanderbilt is going to be good next year.  Garland, Shittu, and Lee virtually guarantee that.  Langford can not only piggyback on that newfound success, he can be the leader of it.  He can be the LeBron to the Wade and Bosh that lie in wait.  He is the best scorer of the bunch, and can lead a team with a high ceiling that is devoid of unreasonably high expectations.

In doing so, Langford has the potential to be the focal point of an adaptable offense.  Vanderbilt might look like a three-point centric offense in its current state, but that’s largely due to the roster.  At Vanderbilt, the personnel dictate the play.  If we’ve learned anything in Bryce Drew’s first two years, it’s that he is a very experimental coach.  He will give Langford the freedom to shoot the ball, and Garland, the best passer in this class, will put Langford in positions to knock down shots.

Sure, Vanderbilt might not have the history that Kansas and Indiana have.  But Memorial Gym at its best can give Allen Fieldhouse or Assembly Hall a run for their money, and with the potential big three that Bryce Drew could real in, expect some Memorial Magic in the future.  Langford has the opportunity to make a generational impact on a program and boost his stock in the process.  But that only exists in one place.

That place is Vanderbilt University.

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Max Schneider, Assistant Sports Editor
Max Schneider ('20) is the Assistant Sports Editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He is majoring in Communications Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Max has previously written for Sportsblog.com and worked for The Players' Tribune. When he is not writing, you can find Max watching Friends and Game of Thrones reruns or constantly checking his fantasy football lineup.

23 COMMENTS

  1. This article has the intelligence and insight of someone who has never seen IU, KU, or Vandy play basketball, and the experience of someone who has never set foot on the IU or KU campuses.

    Pathetic

  2. This article is extraordinarily misinformed, factually inaccurate on many basic levels, and is written by someone who has not watched IU or KU play, and has never set foot on either campus.

    Pathetic

  3. This article is written by someone who appears to have never watched IU or KU play, is stacked with basic factual errors, and by someone who has never set foot on the IU or KU campus

    Pathetic

  4. Max,
    It will come as no surprise that I highly disagree with you! I think Indiana is the perfect place for him to STAY, and here is why. First, Langford is a humble kid and while all that allure of the NBA is tempting and ultimately his dream, it still comes down to roots. Although Vandy isn’t that far from the New Albany Banks of the Ohio, it isn’t the 2.5 hr drive North that Indiana is. He will want to be close so that family and friends can enjoy watching him play as often as they can, and so that trips home are not the cumbersome. Secondly, most Indiana fans feel the jury is still out on Archie, but they like what they see. I think Miller provides Langford with an opportunity to not just develop a portion of his game that needs some (Defense) but also to work on fundamentals. I’m not saying Coach Drew doesn’t afford the same opportunity, but it’s just different. The idea that Langford won’t thrive or be the focus of the offense is just non-sense, and we can look to Juwan Morgan’s performance this year as a potential indicator. Also being on an Indiana team (By the way I think next years recruits will surprise some people) Is how Langford gets the center of attention, Vandy has other 5 star recruits which will limit his numbers.

    Finally, I don’t think Vandy better prepares him for the NBA in anyway, he could probably go there now. I mean Noah Vonleah got drafted and he was nowhere near ready, Cody Zeller who was also not ready. Archie will make Langford work, and Langford in turn will want to work, thus making him a better all around player.

    Yes Indiana has had many lean years, and the Bob Knight Curse continues, but as Coach Crean said “It’s Indiana” and in 49 states it’s just basketball. Langford has the chance after High School to continue weaving his legacy into the fabric of Indiana basketball lore. The big question at hand, and Bryce Drew is a heck of a coach, is how all of sudden, Vandy out recruiting not just Indiana but the likes of Duke, UK, UNC, etc. The fact that they have become a destination location, seems suspicious to me. Maybe I have missed it all ready, but you should write a story about that. Those outside Vandy are interested!

  5. Garbage post! Reasons for why he would pick KU stop at tradition? Come on bruh, you telling me this dude has the chance to compete for a national championship and play at Allen Fieldhouse, be the main attraction on a projected top 5 team, win ANOTHER big 12 championship, while playing for a HOF coach? 🤔 that would only hurt his stock if he’s scared of the lights…and if he’s as good as I think he is, Dude is ready for the lights. Fall back on that weak opinion. Most pressure is in Indiana because no matter how well he does if he plays it’s not gonna be good enough for that squad. Easy route is Vanderbilt, and I get Garland is his homie, but they will always be homies regardless. #RCJH

  6. Well this is the most biased load of garbage I’ve read in a long time. The idea that Indiana is “worst team of the three options” is borderline hysterical… you do realize that Vanderbilt is DEAD LAST in the god awful SEC, right?.. Adding two freshman to a 7-13 squad whose best win is by 1 over Alabama doesn’t suddenly make Vandy a “notch above the cream and crimson” returning B10 POY candidate Juwan Morgan. The only major loss will be Johnson (perfect for Romeo, the starting spot and all the minutes are his!)

    You are living in a dream land…

    No history, least talent on next year’s team even with Garland and Shittu, garbage record this year (literally worst record in the entire [awful] conference – in case you forgot again), least passionate fanbase, worst facilities… sometimes dreams do come true, but Vandy is playing from behind here whether you choose to believe it or not.

  7. Most ridiculous article ever written and the author is clueless about Indiana basketball. Robert Johnson is averaging 14pts 5 ten and 2.5ast with no point guard play. Indiana has the #19 recruiting class with three 4-Star incoming freshman. Next year, Indiana will have its top player Juwan Morgan back along with 6’10 junior De’Ron Davis combining for a dominate front court. If Langford chose IU he’d be guaranteed a spot in March Madness which is not the case at Vandy. If Robert Johnson can get up 11.3 shots a game Langford should get 15+ with an impressive pass 1st top 100 recruit point guard in Phinisee.

  8. Slow down there Max. First, Memorial can get anything close to Assembly Hall or Allen Fieldhouse kills any credibility you had. Kansas not having any help for him, right on, afraid that’s not going to be the case. And IU has a solid group coming in. Then Archie being a coach that will handcuff a top 5 recruit is laughable. Have you even watched them play this year? Any guard that can knock down shots would have all the looks he could take…they have 0 shooters now!

  9. And I almost forgot. How about the ACL tear of Simi factoring in to his decision? He may not be ready to go by next season, and that should be considered by any other potential recruit.

  10. Here’s why you are wrong.

    Victor Oladipo
    Thomas Bryant
    Yogi Ferrell
    James Blackmon
    Troy Williams
    Cody Zeller
    Noah Vonleh

    IU’s name is solid for producing and developing competitive NBA players-its a place that will get eyes on his game. I think Archie adds better defensive coaching and will build on this.

  11. Terrible article. Hopefully, Romeo isn’t buying this BS. Kansas and IU give him a much better chance to go deeper in the tournament which will showcase his talents at the highest level on big stage when everyone is watching. Kansas will be there for sure and IU will definitely make tournament with it’s top 2 upperclass post guys returning in Morgan and Davis. IU also has the #17 recruiting class coming in and Romeo would move it to Top 5.

  12. Extremely stupidly biased article. LOL, Vanderbilt? A program that hasn’t made a Final 4 EVER! Kansas has more Elite8 apperances the last 2 seasons than Vanderbilt has had in thier entire basketball history. Indiana? Yeah, was a great program, but only 1 FF for IU in past 26 years. IU hasn’t been able to “cut it” in the Modern Era of College Basketball.
    As for Kansas. They will be #1 team entering next season. Legitally 13 deep WITHOUT Langford. Plus a HOF coach in Bill Self arguably in his best coaching performance ever, this season. Kansas? Hasn’t missed an NCAA TOURNEY in 30 years. IU and Vandy have missed multiple NCAA Tournaments combined last 30 years. KU has had more success the past 9 years than Vandy + IU has had last 30 years combined. Lol give me a break also on “Lawrence vs Nashville” thing. You really think an 18 year old kid cares about Country music fr 40-60 years ago? Have u EVER been to Lawrence,Ks.? The best basketball gym in country, Plus Mass St is popping 24/7. During early 1990s, Lawrence was referred to as ” 2nd Seattle” because of Lawrence’s vibrant alt rock scene by SPIN magazine.

  13. I’d stick to watching Friends versus breaking down coaching methods. Bryce Drew has had Vanderbilt regress under his watch, they are absolutely horrible this year. They are dead last in the worst Power 5 in all of college basketball by a considerable margin. Also in anyway shape or form comparing one of the worst arenas in all of college basketball and saying on a good night it can compete with Assembly Hall or Allen Fieldhouse is justification to have your ability to work in journalism taken away. Drop your fanboy wet dreams, if you want to make a case that Vanderbilt is the best option because it’s in a great city (Nashville), has great academics, and 2 5 star recruits coming in by all means fire away.

    Making points you made are laughable at best. Bill Self and Archie Miller’s coaching credentials by any metric possible trump Bryce Drew’s. Comparing fan bases, facilities, or 2 of college basketballs cathedrals to the crap hole Vandy plays in night in and night out makes this one of the worst written articles I’ve read in a long, long time.

  14. Max – I think Indiana is clearly the best place for Romeo to improve at. I agree that Kansas may not be a good choice for him, but I think you have the reasons wrong. You said, “Kansas’s top three players, will all be moving on to the NBA, leaving Kansas with an unprecedented lack of veteran presence at the guard position.” Actually, Kansas could be returning 5 guards, including their 2 starting guards, Malik Newman and LaGerald Vick (currently projecting in the 2nd round for next year’s draft, so going pro isn’t likely). They also already have two 5 star guards signed for next year’s class – Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. Sure, Romeo can compete with all of these guys and could be the best of them all, but that back court is pretty full and they are all going to get minutes. Romeo sat behind the IU bench for a game last week and after that, him and his dad had nothing but praise for Archie Miller about how he gets the most out of his players and pushes everyone – they said that is the type of coach they want for Romeo. Contrast that with Bryce Drew’s style of patting them on the back and letting them play however they want.

  15. Romeo is a lottery pick in the NBA draft regardless of where he goes to college (in my opinion). He’s probably the best player to ever come out of the state of Indiana. He doesn’t need a particular school to showcase his talents. You really need to see this kid play live to understand that. He is very dedicated to academics and that could play an integral role in his decision making (Vanderbilt). Opposing team’s fans cheer for this kid. He takes pictures and signs autographs after every game. He is probably the most humble kid with that kind of talent I’ve ever seen. Wherever he decides to go, he will make an immediate impact and will be a contender for a conference title, if not a National Championship. Mark. My. Words.

  16. Great article Max. Don’t let these Indiana and Kansas homers bother you. Vanderbilt is the best place for Langford. Why? You are picking a college. Vandy is much more prestigious than the others. Also, at Indiana or Kansas, he’s just another name. At Vandy he, along with Garland and Shittu will be forever remembered and when they return to Memorial in their 70s it will be thunderous, just like when they first stepped on the court as freshmen. Bryce Drew is a former NBA player. He will develop them to be great players and even better men.

  17. Vanderbilt, who plays on national TV only when they play Kentucky, is the perfect place to gain visibility to NBA recruiters.. That was highly sarcastic. I am in Bloomington, but unfortunately think he’ll go to Kansas simply to have a shot at winning a championship during his only year in college.

  18. The smartest sentence in this article is this. Lawrence Kansas, Bloomington Indiana, or NASHVILLE TN. I’m not even sure where Lawrence is, I’ve heard of Bloomington because of Bobby night, but Nashville has arrived….Google it

  19. Wow… Talk about a desperation article!! Why in the world Romeo would choose Vanderbilt over ANY SCHOOL is beyond me. Its not even a basketball school. How many championships has Vandy won? They cant even win an SEC championship and are bottom feeders in that conference nearly every year. And I can promise you Vandy will NOT beat UK next year as most of UK will be back. Indiana has the best basketball talent in the country. Its no wonder 15 of 16 of the biggest high school gyms in the world are in INDIANA!! Stay at home Romeo.

  20. Lets get this straight real quick… Comparing Vanderbilt basketball to Indiana basketball is like comparing a piper cub to a space shuttle!!! … Vanderbilt??? ..Really???

  21. By the way… Indiana has 2 more NCAA mens basketball championships than Vanderbilt and Kansas combined. IU-5 Kansas-3 and Vandy-0.

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