The state of Indiana takes high school basketball very, very seriously. It’s a big deal. There’s a reason that 13 of the 15 highest-capacity high school gyms are located in Indiana. Basketball here is like football in Texas. It can seem obsessive and over-the-top from the outside looking in, but the view from within the ecosystem is a lot different. Getting really excited about high school basketball doesn’t seem weird here, it’s just the Way Things Are.
I grew up seeing it. Romeo Langford grew up a part of it. And that’s why he’s going to be just fine, regardless of where he decides to go.
Romeo has heard this state’s preference for his post-secondary education every time he’s taken the court for over a year. He’s seen fast food restaurants weigh in on it. He’s graciously given hours of his time to sign autographs for thousands of fans that followed him all over the state. You can say this is too much for a 17-year old kid and, hell, I’m inclined to agree with you. But let’s make sure we know the extent of what has gone on during this recruitment.
People are excited about Romeo Langford. The fact he was even marginally in the hunt for the state’s scoring record is enough to get the attention of even the most casual high school basketball fans. Once you add in that he’s a generational talent and Indiana is on his short list? Game on. Crimson-clad Indiana fans started piling into his games in ever-increasing numbers. A ticket to his postseason games required almost Duke student-level determination to get.
It has been a wild ride for Langford, who, by all representations, has done his best to enjoy it and is making sure to take it all in before making his decision. So I was more than surprised when sentiments like this started popping up:
Still, though, I fear for Langford’s safety if he doesn’t choose Indiana in that ceremony, when a Taco Bell in Sellersburg, Indiana, chose to display a sign reading “Romeo Langford Live Mas Choose IU.” When Kentucky fans warn you about a fan base being insane, you should probably believe them.
“Romeo’s announcement is a safety issue because Taco Bell is involved!” is an -incredible- thesis statement. The Golden Age of Takes pushes forward, unabated.
The idea that Romeo Langford is in any kind of danger from the result of his decision on where to play college basketball is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. This isn’t Indiana fans’ first rodeo, they’ve seen generation talents leave this state before, and they’ll see them leave again. Do they have a preference? Of course. Is there a risk that, should he decide on Vanderbilt or Kansas that he’ll have a mob scene on his hands? Come on.
(Oh man, Kentucky fans think IU fans are insane? Tremendous content. I love to ask a school’s rival about a fanbase, that’s where you get the unbiased assessments.)
But, ultimately, we all know why these things get said. There’s no real concern for Romeo’s safety, it’s just another opportunity to Do Your Part when it comes to recruiting. That being: say a bunch of ridiculous nonsense on Twitter / blog / etc. and hope the right people see it and believe it.
Romeo Langford knows what basketball is about in Indiana. Romeo Langford’s family knows what basketball is about in Indiana. If there were one iota of concern about what was going to happen at his announcement ceremony, the announcement details would reflect that. This is a recruit who has no fear of the community that surrounds him and not necessarily because he’s going to tell them what they want to hear, but because he knows that no matter what he decides, he’s going to be fine, and so will they. Langford could go overseas for his gap year between high school and the NBA and this state will still talk about him for decades to come.
It’s just the way things are.