When Romeo Langford committed to be an Indiana Hoosier last April fans were elated and for good reason. He was the biggest get for IU since Cody Zeller. An in-state star that certainly had the NBA in his future.
Expectations rose as well. With a star like Langford coming to Bloomington and forward Juwan Morgan returning for his senior season Hoosier fans were looking forward to returning to the NCAA Tournament, an event that IU hasn’t been a part of since the 2015-16 season, and possibly even making a run.
As we all know by now, that didn’t happen.
What Hoosier fans did see was a season of highs and lows that ultimately led to an NIT quarterfinal exit against Wichita State with Langford on the bench because of a back injury. There was a lot of frustration among the IU fanbase this year when it came to hoops this season and for good reason, but there was a negative offspring of that frustration that grew as the season went on—a negativity around Romeo Langford.
It wasn’t the entire fanbase, of course. Most fans continued to be positive about IU’s star, but words like “overrated,” “soft” and “selfish” started to pop up, especially near the end of the season when the guard was hurt. Twitter egg avis started to get more and more bold in their negativity—if a Twitter egg avi can truly be bold, that is. Reporters began to question whether or not Langford should even enter the draft as well as whether or not the teenager can become “an alpha,” which is supposedly something he needs to do.
This all comes, of course, from people who, for the most part, don’t know Langford. People who weren’t in the locker room with him. People who have never spoken to him. On Sunday night, we got the opinion of somebody who’s the exact opposite, somebody who should know Langford better than most people—his teammate Juwan Morgan. The forward took a break from his NBA Draft preparations to do a hit on Indianapolis-area TV. Eventually he was asked about Langford and his response left little doubt about what he thought about the potential lottery pick.
“He was definitely the best teammate I’ve ever been with,” Morgan said. “All the guys will attest to that, Romeo was not a bad teammate at all. If you were there in the locker room and during practice, you would see the pain he’s going through with his hand. He was in treatment more than anyone else I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around a lot of injured guys.”
From this quote we can take a few things. First of all Langford was actually hurt—throw your conspiracy theories about him sitting out of the NIT out the window. Next, he played through pain and affected his draft stock adversely because of it all for the sake of his team.
That seems pretty selfless.
Lastly, and this is the obvious part, Langford was admired as a teammate by one of the more beloved Hoosiers in recent history and one of IU’s recent locker room leaders.
Sure it’s not unreasonable to argue that Morgan wouldn’t have anything to gain by saying that Langford was a bad teammate or anything of that ilk, but across his four years as a Hoosier, Morgan always seemed to be pretty straightforward and genuine—something that people liked about him. He wouldn’t go to extremes the way he did if he didn’t really believe what he was saying.
The further removed we get from last season and the disappointment surrounding it, the more evidence we receive showing that most of the reasons for the negativity around Langford aren’t and weren’t very good reasons at all. If you still feel the need to fuel the negativity consider that. That trend should almost certainly continue as more people speak about Langford and as he gets the opportunity to show everybody what he can do in the NBA as a part of a pro system with pro teammates and, most importantly, at full health.
Don’t continue to rag on a kid that gave his all for IU despite now being 100 percent. Don’t question what kind of teammate he is or whether or not he’s tough enough to play pro basketball. Let the negativity die out, we’ll all be better for it.