Before the 2017-18 college basketball season got through December, then-Oklahoma point guard Trae Young was already a household name. His 43-point, seven-assist outing against Oregon put him on the radar as did a 22-assist effort a few weeks later. To open Big 12 play, Young went off for 39 points and 14 assists in a win over TCU. When it was all said and done, Young led all of Division I in scoring and assists and wound up a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks (he was subsequently traded to Atlanta).
Will there be another Trae Young to emerge this college basketball season? Is there an incoming freshman who will have the impact that Young did last season? It takes a special kind of player to lead the nation in scoring let alone lead the nation in assists too. There just may be a Young in the making in Indiana. He was last year’s Mr. Basketball in a state synonymous with the sport. Now, Romeo Langford looks to bring the Hoosiers back to greatness.
High School Career Instead of taking the prep school route, Langford spent all four years of high school at New Albany where he led the school to its first state championship since 1973 during his sophomore season. He averaged 35.5 points per game as a senior and wound scoring 3,002 career points and won numerous awards including the Mr. Basketball, Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year, and McDonald’s All-American as a senior. Langford was one of the most highly recruited players in the nation last year and eventually decided to stay home and attend Indiana.
First-Year Phenom There has been a long line of greats pass through Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University. Venture back to the late 1970s and the great Isiah Thomas, who scored 14.6 points per game as a freshman. Steve Alford averaged 15.5 a game in his first season and don’t forget Eric Gordon who averaged 20.9 for the Hoosiers as a freshman.
How will Langford measure up? At 6-foot-6, Langford is long, lean, and athletic. He has smooth moves and can attack the basket from anywhere on the floor. Langford has a nice soft jump shot and will be a scorer from Day 1. In a recent exhibition game against Division II Southern Indiana, Langford scored 13 points and had five rebounds. He also displayed his defensive prowess with four steals, including one that ended in a thunderous dunk on the other end. It was a sign of things to come.
Are There Others? Langford may not be the only freshman that puts up big numbers in 2018-19. Duke has a trio of freshmen – Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett, and Zion Williamson – that could easily put up some ridiculous numbers, but they likely won’t put up Young-like numbers since they will be sharing the wealth.
Charles Bassey chose Western Kentucky over all the basketball bluebloods. In the Hilltoppers opening scrimmage, Bassey scored 30 points and had 15 rebounds. He could do that every night. Darius Garland could potentially do the same at Vanderbilt and North Carolina’s Nassir Little could emerge as the guy for the Tar Heels.
There will be plenty of quality freshmen in college basketball this season. Whether we see another Trae Young remains to be seen.