BOZICH | Romeo Langford has friends (and fans) on Kentucky all-stars
When Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford leads the Indiana all-stars against Kentucky this weekend, he will encounter three of his former AAU teammates, who remain friends and fans.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — If you’re looking for the Kentucky all-stars to talk a stream of harsh noise about Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford and the Indiana all-stars, this is the best they can do:
Pierce Kiesler, the former St. Xavier star, said that if he dunked on Langford Friday night at Bellarmine University, “he’s never going to live it down, that’s for sure. He’s going to hear about it every week or so.”
Only PG-rated stuff.
The Kentucky all-stars are more likely to tell you that Langford is the most talented high school player they’ve seen. That they expect him to do big things at Indiana University. That they anticipate Langford will be preparing for the NBA Draft next June.
"I think he’s that good," Kiesler said. "I do."
That they can’t wait to see him at Knights Hall Friday at 8 p.m.
And that Romeo Langford is a friend — and former teammate.
Remember that AAU team — Twenty Two Vision — that had the Washington Post hyperventilating a few weeks ago? Three Kentucky all-stars — Kiesler, Mr. Basketball Trevon Faulkner of Mercer County High School and Mickey Pearson of John Hardin High School — competed with Langford last spring and summer on Twenty Two Vision.
"He’s just a really good friend," Faulkner said. "He’s very deserving of the hype. He’s a really good kid. He’s got that mentality (to succeed). He works for his and what he has. I wouldn’t take anything from him. He’s a really good player."
"Great player,” Pearson said. "Can do it all, especially score."
Then there is Kiesler, who has been pals with Langford since the fifth grade, when they were teammates on the Louisville Legends AAU team.
Kiesler said that when the two players were 11, he recognized Langford was different. “He’s always been that skilled,” Kiesler said. "He’s just slowly gotten more publicity … it’s his ability to make shots. I think he makes a lot of tough shots.”
Kiesler and Langford played so much AAU basketball together they discussed playing on the same high school basketball team.
In ninth grade, the conversation was about getting Langford to St. X. Didn’t happen. Romeo Langford was a New Albany kid, and proved it by leading the Bulldogs to the 2016 Class 4A state title and becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer as well as the fourth all-time scorer in Indiana basketball.
In 11th grade, they discussed Kiesler leaving St. X for New Albany, where Kiesler’s father lives.
With Kiesler, a 6-foot-7 forward, New Albany might have added state titles in 2017 and 2018.
"I left my own legacy here at this (St. X)," Kiesler said.
He also built a strong friendship with Langford, who attended his graduation party several weeks ago.
"He’s always like, ‘Don’t let me catch you slipping because I’m going to dunk on you and stuff like that,'" Kiesler said. "Of course, I’m telling him that I’m going to jump with him (and block his shot).”
Make a note of this: Kiesler signed with Florida Southern, a Division II school in Lakeland, Fla. Faulkner signed with Northern Kentucky. Pearson will play for Travis Ford at Saint Louis.
None of the Kentucky stars are ranked in the Top 150 players in the 2018 class by Scout.com. Indiana has Langford, a McDonald’s all-American, two of his future IU teammates (point guard Robert Phinisee and wing Damezi Anderson), Michigan State recruit Aaron Henry and Eric Hunter, who is bound for Purdue.
Las Vegas has not posted a line on the game, but it looks like Indiana by … plenty.
"There’s really a chip on our team," Faulkner said. “We’re coming out here to try to show everybody that we’re not bums.
"In Kentucky we basically think basketball is where it is here. We’re going to come here and show them we’re not bums. We’re not coming to play. We’re coming to win. “
“I know they’ve got DI player after DI player,” Kiesler said. “Everybody always talks about the hype and stuff like that. I think we’ve got a good solid group of guys. If we come out and play hard, we can compete with them.
"They’ve got all the known players and stuff like that but we’ve got a really good group of guys as well -- I definitely think we can beat them.”
Even without talking any noise about their pal, Romeo Langford.
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