For a long time, Romeo Langford was the only shooting guard in the 2018 class with an offer from Kentucky. That changed this afternoon. Today, John Calipari extended an offer to five-star wing Keldon Johnson, the latest sign the Cats are pulling out of the race for one of the best prospects in the area. What gives? Let’s examine the tea leaves.
A Louisville fan from the start
Langford is from New Albany, Indiana, right across the river from Louisville and the Yum Center. As a result, he grew up cheering for the Cards, which has every Louisville fan in existence convinced he’ll play for Rick Pitino next season. Langford still calls UofL his “hometown team” and insists their NCAA sanctions won’t be a factor in his recruitment; however, there’s another coach that may want him even more than Pitino.
An Indiana savior?
Langford may have grown up cheering for the Cards, but if Archie Miller has his way, he won’t be leaving the state of Indiana. The new head coach of the Hoosiers has made it his mission to land the New Albany native, selling him on being a home state hero. Langford may have been a Louisville fan growing up, but Miller has made it clear that he is his number one priority in the 2018 class. Meanwhile, Calipari has his eyes on bigger fish, such as Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
An Egyptian revelation
When Langford made Calipari’s U19 squad for the FIBA World Cup in Egypt, most thought it was a prime opportunity for Cal to make up some ground with the five-star scorer; however, that didn’t exactly happen. Langford battled back spasms throughout the trip and didn’t play much, which he expressed a lot of frustration about on his USA Today High School Sports blog. Whether or not that was directed at Calipari, who knows, but let’s just say the two didn’t exactly bond on the trip like Calipari did with other recruits.
Rising stars > Plateaus
Jack Pilgrim spent last month on the recruiting trail and sources told him that Kentucky’s interest in Langford has been waning for a while.
“While some of the other prospects are still blossoming, Langford has hit a plateau,” a source said. “The coaching staff really doesn’t feel like he’s improved all that much in the last year. He hasn’t separated himself from the competition the way they expected him to.”
On the flip side, Keldon Johnson was one of the rising stars on the summer circuit, averaging 20.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. He also turned heads at the Nike Basketball Academy last week.
After not clicking with Langford in Egypt, it’s clear Calipari is ready to move on to other options, as evidenced by today’s offer. I stand by my hot take from a few weeks back. Kentucky and Indiana will play in 2018, with Romeo Langford starting at shooting guard for the Hoosiers. Will it be Johnson matched up against him?