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What’s The Ceiling For Indiana With Romeo Langford?

The Hoosiers landed a huge commitment earlier this week, but how far can the team go with Langford in the fold?

Sports: Romeo Langford USA TODAY NETWORK

Well, it finally happened. After months of hype and speculation, Romeo Langford made it official and committed to the Indiana Hoosiers on Monday evening. The announcement ended what had become one of the more high profile recruitments in quite some time.

Hoosier fans quickly took to the interwebs to celebrate Langford’s commitment and what it could mean for the program going forward. Many seemed to celebrate it as much, or more, than a huge postseason victory. And it even led to some pretty creative celebration videos.

However, as all know, getting a commitment guarantees very little in the world of college basketball. Everyone knows that quality recruiting, generally, leads to success, but it’s a transitive property that is hardly certain. Sometimes, major recruits pan out. And, sometimes, they end up doing very little at the college level.

This isn’t meant to push any particular narrative, either. It’s simply reality.

And Hoosier fans know this quite well. Just look at Noah Vonleh in 2013, James Blackmon in 2014, and Indiana’s recruiting class heading into last season. Getting talent looks great on paper, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee anything with regard to team success. Plenty of teams have put up underwhelming results, despite having plenty of talent on the roster.

Still, even with all those qualifiers, it’s hard not to get excited about what Langford could bring to Bloomington next fall. He’s an immensely talented five-star prospect and Indiana’s highest rated recruit in more than a decade. In fact, Langford could be the Big Ten’s best prospect since Jared Sullinger committed to Ohio State in 2010.

This isn’t just some high profile recruit.

This is an absolutely elite prospect.

Whether some want to accept it or not, these prospects live in a different world. Again, while no recruit is ever guaranteed to lead to team success, it’s rare to see prospects on Langford’s level struggle at the collegiate level. For some perspective, just look at some of the league’s better recruits over the last decade:

Big Ten’s Highest Rated Recruit By Year Per 247Sports:

  • 2008 - Eric Gordon (1)
  • 2009 - Royce White (26)
  • 2010 - Jared Sullinger (4)
  • 2011 - Cody Zeller (10)
  • 2012 - Sam Dekker (12)
  • 2013 - Noah Vonleh (11)
  • 2014 - D’Angelo Russell (16)
  • 2015 - Diamond Stone (6)
  • 2016 - Miles Bridges (12)
  • 2017 - Jaren Jackson (8)

Not all of the players above lived up to the hype, but that’s an absolutely stacked list. It includes a plethora of All-Big Ten players and a number of Big Ten Freshman of the Year winners over the last decade. The most disappointing player of the group was probably Royce White and that had a lot more to do with off court issues than anything else.

The list above also puts into perspective what Langford can reasonably be expected to do when he arrives in Bloomington next season. He’s not going to win a national championship by himself, but it’s not unreasonable to think he will be in contention for Big Ten Freshman of the Year and have a solid shot at an All-Big Ten spot as well.

But, as Hoosier fans are surely wondering, what does that mean for Indiana?

How far can Langford take the Hoosiers?

Let’s take a look.

We all know that no single player can earn a team a bid. Ben Simmons put up monster numbers at LSU and the Tigers still missed the NCAA Tournament. And that wasn’t that only time that happened, either. We’ve seen a plethora of teams with immensely talented players struggle to make the Tournament before. As such, there’s no debating that Langford will need some help to get the job done.

But the good news is that Indiana should have some help for Langford next season. While the Hoosiers are losing two key pieces in the backcourt, most of the frontcourt returns, and Indiana returns a number of players who saw time as underclassmen last season. Indiana’s talented 2017 recruiting class should also be starting to trend up.

What this leaves are some pieces to work with for Langford. Devonte Green will likely see time alongside him in the backcourt, Clifton Moore and Justin Smith should play on the wing, and Indiana will welcome back De’Ron Davis upfront.

And that doesn’t even include the other prospects in Indiana’s 2018 recruiting class. The Hoosiers are also welcoming three four-star prospects, including Jerome Hunter, who received attention from virtually every Big Ten program. Both hunter and Damezi Anderson, who is also a top 115 prospect should see time on the wing.

Those pieces add up into what looks like a pretty competent lineup. The point guard position remains a concern, but Langford should alleviate concerns in the backcourt and Indiana should have enough depth on the wing and upfront to do some damage.

Where things get really interesting is if Juwan Morgan opts to return to school.

Morgan declared for the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent and fans are still waiting on his final decision. During last season, Morgan averaged an impressive 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and was, undeniably, Indiana’s best player. Adding him to a lineup that already features Langford makes things look really intriguing.

By any ordinary measure, there’s a lot to like about this Indiana team. The Hoosiers could have two top 10 players in the league, a solid but inconsistent big man, and a plethora of talented, but young players around them. Those are a lot of the factors you look for in a team preparing to take the jump in an upcoming season.

The truth of the matter is that Indiana’s upcoming season will be determined by the team’s point guard play, whether any wildcards emerge, and how good Langford can be from the onset. The Hoosiers still have massive concerns at the point and will need someone beyond Langford and Morgan to step up. If so, this team could go deep in March.

Whether Langford and the Hoosiers can live up to the hype next season remains to be seen. However, there are some serious reasons for optimism for the first time in Bloomington in quite a while. And that should be more than enough for the moment.