CHICAGO – In late November, Indiana freshman Romeo Langford suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb.
The talented future first-round pick said Friday it would have been wrong to shut it down to prepare for June’s 2019 NBA draft.
He owed it teammates and the Hoosier program to keep going.
“I didn’t want to sit out that long,” Langford said during media availability at the NBA draft combine. “I guess it can show my passion for the game that I didn’t want sit out that long knowing I could play. I wanted to be there for my team.
“I know my teammates needed me to be successful that season, so I wanted to be there for them. I didn’t want them to think that I was using Indiana as a pit stop.”
The Hoosiers weren’t successful, finishing a disappointing 19-16.
And Langford, a 5-star prospect, probably saw his draft stock falter.
And that will likely put him in play for the Detroit Pistons, who hold the 15th pick of the first round. Langford met with the Pistons this week.
Langford, 19, is among a group of wings with question marks the Pistons will examine between now and the June 20 draft. Perimeter depth is arguably the team’s most pressing offseason need.
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At 6-6, Langford has a solid 6-11 wingspan. An explosive athlete, he projects to be a creative shot-maker.
But he struggled from 3-point range, shooting 27 percent.
He admits the injury bothered him.
“I don’t want to use that as an excuse, but it affected it a lot, playing through all that pain and the (wrap) on my hand was kind of weird, getting used to not feeling the ball, being able to grip it,” Langford said.
He recently had surgery and wore a cast while addressing reporters.
He didn’t offer clarity on his availability for predraft workouts with teams.
Another knock is Langford’s quiet, soft-spoken demeanor. It was difficult to hear him at times during the media scrum.
“Damian Lillard doesn’t show too much emotion and people don’t question his passion, so it really doesn’t bother me,” Langford said.
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There have been more heralded Kentucky prospects to visit the Quest Multisport facility for the combine.
The pipeline to the NBA is a major draw for the program headed by coach John Calipari.
Shooting guard Tyler Herro, a first-round candidate, said the preparation starts the moment you set foot on campus.
“Since the day I stepped on campus for the first time, he taught me and the rest of my teammates how to be pros and how to go about things professionally,” Herro said. “A credit to him for showing us how to grow into young men.”
Herro hasn’t met with the Pistons this week and doesn’t know if they are among the six teams he will visit for predraft workouts.
But he could be an option for the Pistons.
Herro averaged 14 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his lone season with the Wildcats.
He shot 46% from the field overall, 93.5% from the free-throw line and made 35.5% of his 3-point attempts (60-for-169).
Herro has good size at 6-6, but lacks length and athleticism.
But he has a scoring knack and with the premium on shooting, he is a desired prospect – which is the desired outcome for players going to Kentucky.
“Just coming from Kentucky, being there since June, they really prepare you to be a professional,” Herro said. “That’s really the reason I went to Kentucky, to enjoy a great year of college and prepare to be the professional I hope to be one day.”
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Published at Fri, 17 May 2019 23:23:52 +0000