BOZICH | When will Romeo Langford sign? Any time you ask
When is New Albany High School star Romeo Langford going to sign? Whenever you ask him, which is just the way his parents raised him.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) – I don’t know when New Albany High School basketball star Romeo Langford will sign his national letter of intent to Kansas, Indiana or Vanderbilt, the final three schools he is considering.
I do know when Langford will sign next – Friday night after New Albany’s game at Providence High in Clarksville.
Again Saturday night after the Bulldogs visit Madison. And a week from Friday when Langford plays his final home game against Bedford.
Langford will sign for at least an hour – likely longer – over his final 5-to-11 games as Langford’s remarkable high school career closes in pursuit of a second Class 4A state title at New Albany.
Fans will scramble out of their seats before the fourth quarter starts to secure a place at the front of the line that winds through hallways and regularly stretches to more than 200 people, from toddlers to grandparents. Langford will work his Sharpie (he starts with a pair) as hard as he worked his crossover dribble while making himself one of the top players in the Class of 2018.
New Albany graduate and fan Sabrina Lage and seven family members skipped the final eight minutes when the Bulldogs beat Columbus East last Saturday afternoon. That’s what was required to be first in line.
“It’s been fun for the kids who have been following him and wanted an autograph of him.” Lage said. “We’re hoping he goes to IU and we have our autograph.”
“You don’t often see the majority of the opposing crowd stay around more than an hour to get an autograph from a player on a team that just beat them,” said New Albany assistant coach Matt Denison.
That’s precisely what happened at Jennings Country a week ago after Langford scored a career-high 63.
Posing for photographs.
Scraps of paper.
Basketballs. Plenty of basketballs that fans are putting in their trophy cases.
“It makes me feel good (to sign),” Langford said. “I do it after every game. I just take my time, give them what they want me to do.”
Langford started to be swallowed up by crowds of admirers outside the New Albany locker room at the end of his sophomore season. That when Langford’s parents, Tim and Sabrina, asked for a table and a bit of order. Do this the right way.
Since then three things have been inevitable around New Albany basketball: The Bulldogs have won, people have pestered him with questions about where he will play college basketball and Langford has signed and signed and signed.
Langford has averaged close to 40 points per game, earning recognition as a McDonald’s all-American. Indiana’s Mr. Basketball? Langford is a safer bet than Nick Saban going to the college football playoffs. He is one of seven finalists for the Morgan Wooten Award, which is presented to the top high school basketball player in America.
Where is Langford going to school?
Do not expect an answer to that question until New Albany’s season is over.
The Bulldogs are 17-1, ranked third in Class 4A. Over Langford’s four varsity seasons, he has scored 2,696 points. His teams have won 92 of 101 high school games after they won 75 of 78 during his four seasons at Scribner Junior High School.
At 6 feet 5, Langford is an elite perimeter shooter. He is eager to punish any defender brash enough to try to crowd him – and Langford has the quickness to do that. He’s a creative shot maker, comfortable playing above the rim, on the wing or directing the offense. Visit YouTube. Plenty of magical Romeo videos.
As for autographs? Langford takes no days off.
“Growing up, he’s a LeBron James fan,” said Tim Langford, Romeo’s father. “I always told him even before he got to this point, you run across LeBron, you’re in the same building and you asked him for an autograph or you asked him for a picture, how would you feel (if he didn’t sign)?”
“He’s special off the court,” said New Albany coach Jim Shannon. “Because the attention you all (the media) give him and all these people out here waiting (for autographs) give him has never gone to his head.
“I don’t know too many human beings where it wouldn’t affect you. But it hasn’t affected him.”
Langford has tried to satisfy every autograph request. Even when he has been exhausted, injured or processing a rare New Albany defeat. Make a note that Langford is not an autograph collector. He said he has never asked anybody to sign, although he once had an autograph from former Louisville forward Luke Hancock.
“That’s why I play basketball,” Langford said. “Because I like to see that I’m making other people’s days and that I’m making them happy.”
The entire Evansville North junior varsity team lined up for pictures and autographs after they played the Bulldogs. A varsity coach at another Evansville high school asked him to sign the scorebook after Langford scored 30 to beat the coach’s team.
This season fans have taken Romeo Mania up a notch. New Albany athletic director Don Unruh cut off season tickets at 3,400 for a gymnasium that seats about 4,000. The only tickets available are those turned back by the visiting team. ESPN televised a game against a team from Cincinnati.
Expect scalpers Feb. 16 when Langford celebrates Senior Night against Bedford. Bailey is an assistant coach at Bedford, where he scored his 3,134rd and final points in 1990.
Langford has received more than 50 pieces of mail asking or autographed pictures. He’s fulfilled multiple requests to visit ailing children in local hospitals. Done. He consoled a 5-year-old fan who lost his mother. Langford went to the funeral home. Treating people the right way has been a priority to Langford’s parents.
“Just to try to cheer the young man up,” Tim Langford said. “To try to make him smile.”
Birthday party appearances? There have been several of those, too.
Father and son have even returned to Mt. Tabor Elementary School, where Langford once scored 28 points in the county championship game as a fourth grader, to speak to several classes.
“He’s humble,” said Andy Scott, a New Albany fan. Scott and his 9-year-old son, Carsten, were the final two people in a line of more than 200 people who waited more than an hour for Langford’s autograph after the Columbus East game.
It was the fourth time this season Scott waited in line. He has an autographed ball, magazine cover and multiple ticket stubs.
“He doesn’t let his fame and stardom get in the way of who he is as a person,” Scott said. “I know he’s very well grounded. His family has really instilled that in him.”
“It’s nice to hear that,” Tim Langford said. “It’s very important to us. It shows that he’s been raised right by his mother and father. That’s the way we’ve brought him up. Be appreciative. Enjoy every moment. Don’t take it for granted.”
Romeo Langford has not taken it for granted. There are signs of that every time New Albany plays.
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