Langford eager to sign

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CHAMPAIGN — Apparently, the news that Jereme Richmond has left the Illinois basketball program did not, in fact, shake the hoops world from its axis.

"Are you serious?" Illini recruit Devin Langford said Wednesday when told Richmond had announced he would enter the NBA draft. "That's crazy, man. But good for him. Best of luck to him."

Down in Alabama, where Langford is wrapping up his senior season at Huntsville Lee, the Richmond bombshell did not register on the Richter scale. Or even the Richmond scale.

Langford was not aware the Illini freshman was forgoing three years of eligibility to turn pro. The senior guard — who is 6-foot-6 or 6-7, depending on whom you ask — spent time with Richmond during a recruiting visit. Langford's reaction mirrored that of the Illini fan base.

"I mean, it surprises me, but it gives me a lot of hope," he said.

For more playing time?

"Not so much playing time, really. But making it to the next level, that it can be done."

Langford can sign a national letter of intent during the regular signing period that opens April 13. He said he has full intentions of doing so, before arriving at Illinois in June.

"It's (April) the 13th, right? I can't wait," Langford said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. I can't even tell you."

Langford ended his high school career on the state's biggest stage — the Alabama Class 5A championship game in March. Huntsville Lee was defeated 89-85 in the title game after losing an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter. Langford had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

"Losing in the championship, that was tough. It was a crazy game," Langford said. "It was still fun. The team we played, they were pretty good. They played a lot like us (fast). They gave us a taste of our own medicine."

For most of his prep career, Langford said, he shuttled between three positions: point guard, off guard and small forward. He said he expects to play all three perimeter positions at Illinois, as well.

Langford is the only one of five incoming freshmen who did not sign with Illinois in November. He committed to the Illini shortly after the early signing period. He said he spoke with UI coach Bruce Weber as recently as "the other day."

Weber was planning to be at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament on Wednesday in Virginia. Illinois seniors Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale had their first games in the pro showcase later Wednesday night.

The UI coach had plans to recruit today and Friday. The annual Illinois basketball banquet is scheduled for Tuesday in Urbana.

"I like talking to him (Weber)," Langford said. "We just talk about school mainly, what I need to do, summer school. That kind of thing."

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illiniadl wrote on April 07, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hopefully this 3 star recruit will turn out to be something special. I guess number of stars does not mean everything!

thegoose wrote on April 07, 2011 at 8:04 am

wby do you even bring up the stars argument?

Glad he wants to be here and hope he works hard at improving!

illiniadl wrote on April 07, 2011 at 8:04 am

I bring up the stars argument because Tisdale, Davis, Semrau, Jackson, Carlwell, Cole and many others were all 3 star recruits I believe and as you know some turned out OK, and some did nothing, but none were great. I think there is some merit to the star system. Can't be totally ignored. People spend alot of time evaluating these kids before they come up with stars.

the happy hacker wrote on April 07, 2011 at 9:04 am

illiniadl: You forgot that beanpole beanhead Stan Simpson.

What's clear is Weber has no eye for talent. He needs to quit. Now. There's an opening for a girl's bball coach at Central. I'd suggest he take it.

PedsStemCell76 wrote on April 07, 2011 at 9:04 am

Illiniadl, any idea how highly rated "stars" the Butler roster had? Not too many, and they made it to 2 national title games in a row. Langford could end up being the best of a very good recruiting class as he is versatile, tall, and plays good defense. If Weber has some success in the coming years, I hope all of the critics, including Illini fans, don't get back on the bandwagon.

illiniadl wrote on April 07, 2011 at 9:04 am

Good point PedsStemCell76. Actually I really like Bruce Weber. I was just saying that I would guess well over 75% of the time the stars are pretty accurate in terms of how good the players turn out to be. Of course there are exceptions just like anything in life. It would really concern me if we only got 3 star players, but we are doing better than that, so optimism ahead. Clearly the 3 star players at Illinois have not been great, and some have been just awful. I never jumped off the bandwagon, still on.

bluehavana wrote on April 07, 2011 at 9:04 am

A couple things I'd add to the star system and Butler. This year is an exception, but I feel Butler had two pretty talented players in Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Also, Gordon Heyward was a top 15 NBA pick from last years team.

Regarding the star rating discussion: It's also a bit of a slippery slope for anyone argue the Butler point here at Illinois. Essentially the last six seasons have given Coach weber and his staff plenty of time to have success with decent, but not great, talent. This is why so many are upset with Coach Weber. Not a great deal of success recruiting great players, and also not a great deal of success molding lesser talent into great teams.

The recruits we have coming indicate better recruiting. I look forward to seeing what Coach Weber can do with these kids. He's obviously shown the ability to coach great talent before, in 2003-2005.

Shepard63 wrote on April 07, 2011 at 9:04 am

It doesn't matter how many stars a player has or how good a coach is. If they are not on the same page then the team won't be any good.If you look at past Illini teams the ones that played AS A TEAM and didn't think it was all about them individually won more at tournament time.

1IlliniFan wrote on April 07, 2011 at 10:04 am

Wow! The HappyWacker is so positive. I've been down on BW too, but to say he doesn't have an eye for talent is simpy ignorant. BW has had MAJOR recruiting issues but it was from not being able to sign the elite recruits.

This article was supposed to be positve and that Devin is happy to be here - I like his attitude and look forward to him wearing the Orange&Blue.