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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

Langford’s moves impress Williams

December 7, 2001

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The knock on lefty Keith Langford is he supposedly can't switch gears and head to his right.

"Don't believe everything you hear announcers say," KU coach Roy Williams said, bristling at TV criticism of the Jayhawks' freshman guard/forward.

Left-hander Keith Langford scores a right-handed layup at Arizona.
Some TV announcers have criticized the KU freshman for not being
able to go to his right.

Left-hander Keith Langford scores a right-handed layup at Arizona. Some TV announcers have criticized the KU freshman for not being able to go to his right.

"Regardless of what you hear on TV ... they say he goes left all the time. I can show you tape of him going right every single time the boy goes left. Listening to that is amazing ... I can show you he's got a guy on his left side (trying to impede progress) and he went up and dunked on the guy."

Williams is mighty high on Langford, his 6-foot-4 rookie from Crowley, Texas, who has been hobbled the past week or so because of a bone chip in his left ankle that isn't expected to keep him out of action.

"Keith's ability to put the ball on the floor and go to the basket is something special," Williams said. "His ability to slash, put it on the floor and have a mid-range game is something we really don't have."

Williams is happy to have Langford, who averages 10.3 points per game on 50 percent shooting and has added 3.7 boards a game.

"A lot of recruiting scenarios are sort of ridiculous. His worked out pretty well," Williams said.

"I went and watched his team (Team Texas AAU) play at the Augusta Peach Jam (two summers ago). After his game, I went back to (assistant) Neil Dougherty and said, 'No. 5 had a heck of a game.' Neil looked at the roster and said, 'You sure it's not No. 4?'

"I said, 'Yeah I'm sure, I know the difference between 4 and 5.' Neil being the trustworthy assistant he is questioned the head coach because No. 5 was Bracey Wright (Team Texas standout headed to Indiana). We didn't know anything about Keith. We soon after found out he'd committed to Ole Miss."

Disappointed, KU forgot about Langford, conceding him to Mississippi.

However ...

"His mom called us and asked us to recruit her son," Williams said of Charlene Taylor, who called KU's coach about a month before last November's week-long signing period. "I told her I could not do that, he was committed to Ole Miss. The only way I'd talk to him is he had to publicly decommit I don't even know if that's a word to say he's not going to Ole Miss.

"He did that. We sent Neil to see him play. Keith goes 15 for 15 from the free-throw line and got 46. He missed three shots the whole day. I went to see him play in a fall league. He didn't play very well at all and I loved him. I thought he had presence, had savvy. He could pass, dribble, shoot, defend.

"We decided to offer him a scholarship," Williams added, "and fortunately for us he accepted.

Langford said he made a mistake committing to Mississippi his junior year of high school.

"I had only played summer basketball one summer and didn't know anything about recruiting," Langford said. "Mississippi started recruiting me my sophomore year. It was the only college I was exposed to. As a matter of fact I committed without seeing the campus.

"My senior year I told my mom I didn't know if that's where I wanted to be the next four years. She called a few schools that sent me letters before I committed.

"I told her I was really interested in Kansas. She called, and like coach said, he wouldn't do anything unless I decommitted. I felt it was in my best interests to decommit."

Langford wound up choosing KU after visiting Lawrence, Oklahoma and Cincinnati.

"When I talked to coach Williams he seemed very intelligent. The one thing he told me is I'd have an opportunity. That's all I wanted, the opportunity to showcase my talent and to win.

"I could go to a smaller school and play a lot. I wanted an opportunity and coach promised me that."

He's learning a lot his first season in college.

"Everybody is so much better. In high school you could take plays off," Langford said. "Now you've got to be on your toes. I've been doing a lot on the offensive boards. I've been slashing to the basket a bit.

"My shot feels pretty good now from 15 feet. I get a lot of confidence every practice and every game."

He's not intimidated.

"It's surprised me, but this is what I wanted, to get experience right away," said Langford. "I'm glad I'm getting this experience so next year I won't be fumbling around the ball and looking like I've never played before."

He is part of what could be a special freshman class that also includes Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien, Michael Lee and red-shirt Jeff Hawkins.

"We are all bringing different things to the table," said Langford. "We get along as well off the court as on the court. It makes it a whole lot easier to play with everybody. Going to summer school we had a chance to get used to everybody's games. Everybody is so talented. That made it a whole lot easier on the court."

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