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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More than a cheerleader

Former Jayhawk Langford prefers playing in Russia to sitting on NBA bench

Former Kansas basketball player Keith Langford gives out high fives after speaking to the Bill Self campers on Monday at Horejsi Center. Langford has agreed to play in Russia next season.

Former Kansas basketball player Keith Langford gives out high fives after speaking to the Bill Self campers on Monday at Horejsi Center. Langford has agreed to play in Russia next season.

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Campers relish Self's hoops camp

The second week of the Bill Self Basketball Camp brought a blast from the past in former Jayhawk Keith Langford.

Keith Langford still hopes to someday play in the NBA.

“If it comes along, that’s great,” said the 25-year-old former Kansas University combo guard, who for right now, is content — make that downright giddy — to be competing overseas.

Langford, who earned $500,000 playing for Virtus Bologna in the Italian League last season, last week agreed to a two-year, $2.6 million contract offer with Russian League team Khimki Moscow.

“Everything hasn’t officially come out, but a report leaked. I am going to end up being in Moscow bumping heads with Sasha next season,” Langford said Monday at Bill Self’s basketball camp, jokingly referring to former KU player Sasha Kaun, who plays for CSKA Moscow.

“I’m excited about it. They bought me out of the contract I had in Italy.

“Russian teams pay very well,” Langford added. “The thing is ... you can go to Russia but you can be living in a cave somewhere. A lot of guys like myself get lucky and are fortunate enough to get to be going to Moscow, which is a great city. If it was any city other than that, I’d have rather stayed where I was at because I enjoyed playing in Italy.”

Langford averaged 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per games last season for the Bologna team that fell to Benetton in the first round of the Italian League playoffs.

He declined some offers to play NBA summer-league basketball, instead he and his agent looking to Russia for a huge payday.

“I made a conscious decision I was going to focus on my career and make as much money as I can and play as long as I can,” Langford said.

“I’m 25 years old. While I can, I’m going to use my best years actually playing basketball and not cheering for somebody (on the bench) during my prime. If Russia pays the amount of money I’m going to be paid and I can be an integral part of the team, I can’t ask for any more.”

Langford said he’ll continue to follow the fortunes of KU’s current team next season, as he did this past one.

“It means watching the games at 3, 4, 5 in the morning, but it’s worth it. I follow everything about KU,” the Fort Worth, Texas, native said, noting the only good thing about his squad’s early playoff exit was the fact he’d be able to make it back for the second session of Self’s camp.

“Right after we lost, the first thing I thought was, ‘Camp game,’’’ Langford said, referring to getting to play in Wednesday’s mid-afternoon contest between KU alums and current players in Horejsi Center.

“That’s the highlight of my summer right now,” the 6-foot-4 combo guard added. “I heard Billy Thomas had a pretty decent performance last week (33 points at camp game).

“Billy ... we’re on the same side, but I’m coming after your numbers,” he added in a personal message to Thomas. “I want to win with you, but I’m coming after your numbers, Billy, so be ready,” Langford added with a laugh.

Langford — he reached two Final Fours at KU — finished his career as sixth-leading scorer in KU history. He was asked if his jersey No. 5 should someday hang in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters.

“I had a conversation with someone about that not too long ago. Aside from being the sixth leading scorer, I did a few other things I think could go into consideration,” said Langford, who made the all-Final Four team in 2003. He may have been named Final Four MVP had KU defeated Syracuse in the national title game. Langford had 23 points in a semifinal victory over Marquette and 19 in the final.

“But in order to keep the jersey retirement special, you have to have really high standards. I think you should keep it where it is because if you open the floodgates there will be a lot of guys. There’d be a lot of discrepancy. I really don’t want to touch on that. One day in the future, if that happens, I’d be happy.”

l He’s growing: KU newcomer Jeff Withey, who was listed 6-foot-10 on last year’s roster, set the record straight on his height at Self’s camp.

“I’m 7-foot even, about that much taller than Cole (Aldrich),” Arizona transfer Withey said spreading his fingers apart an inch. Aldrich is listed at 6-11.

As far as his weight, San Diego native Withey is “about 230. I weighed 210 when I got here (last winter). The goal is 240, 245,” he reported.

“We have a great trainer in coach (Andrea) Hudy. She works us hard and I eat well. I wake up about 8, eat breakfast, go to class, have another meal after class, go to another class, eat. I eat about five or six good meals a day and drink protein shakes, too. I stay away from fast foods. They tell me to eat whatever, just eat,” he added.

Comments

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 7 months ago

Much love to Keith. Great person and ambassador for KU.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 7 months ago

Eat good and workout! Keep your hops Jeff.

It is great that Cole is staying around to work on his strength and technique. It sounds from other articles like the rest of the front line should be much stronger next year as well.

keith horinek 10 years, 7 months ago

Gary, stop teasing us. can you imagine, two 7 footers on the front line? I wonder if HCBS will play them at the same time? I always liked Keith. I'm glad he's still playing, and making $$$.

jayhawkinnc 10 years, 7 months ago

When Coach Self first came to KU, Keith wasn't buying in to Self's system and he was still very upset about Roy leaving. It took Keith a while to buy in to Self and to listen to him. Eventually he did listen to Self and had provided some more great memories for Jayhawk Nation. Glad to see he is still close to the program and to see his love for KU. He's indeed a great ambassador for KU. It's nice to see him come back and assist with camp and interact with the campers so well.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 7 months ago

dynomitehawk: I'm ashamed to say I had forgotten about him changing shoes to change his luck. Thanks for the reminder.

combes50 10 years, 7 months ago

Withey at 7 feet. Cole at 6 foot 10. Danny Manning as a coach. It's going to be beautiful.

Tim Orel 10 years, 7 months ago

Another interview to pass on to any potential recruits. KU is certainly a special place.

chicagoeddie 10 years, 7 months ago

is his name pronounced with thee? i keep wanting to call him whitey cause it looks like that... =X can anyone clarify? i want to know when he and cole start dunking like crazy on some peoples! hahaah!

Alex Staley 10 years, 7 months ago

chicago, i have a friend from Arizona who followed withey while he was still one of their recruits. He says that it is pronounced with-ee. with the short I sound not the long I as in wild

Chris Shaw 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm just not buying into the Withey Hype. I know he's putting on weight, but he still seems very soft to me. I just have a feeling I am going to be shaking my head a lot and screaming at the TV. I have a feeling he's going to be a poor-man version of Connor Atchley from Texas. I guess if you have a guy like that coming off the bench that is okay, but am I the only one feeling like this?

Alex Berger 10 years, 7 months ago

I know where you're coming from kushaw but I am not worried at all. Our bench is so stacked that if any player is not performing up to expectations then he'll be put back on the bench. If Withey doesn't play ball like HCBS wants him to then he'll put in someone who can do the job. This is gonna be a special season. Rock Chalk!!!

Plus congrats to Langford. Playing in the NBA is an honor, but at least he's banking by playing some foreign ball. Good luck!

mjlindsm 10 years, 7 months ago

kushaw, what makes you think this about Withey? We haven't seen him play a single game. He was very highly recruited out of high school and is an inside player; he doesn't just hang out on the outside like Atchley. Take a look at some of the videos of him; YouTube has quite a bit. He's got skills and seems to try to dunk everything. I'm excited to see him play for us.

vmwskywalk 10 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone remember a couple of years ago the doubters of one Mr. Cole Aldrich? There were many. At least watch the guy play and give him a chance.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 7 months ago

Remember....in essence by the time Jeff gets to play [Dec2009], he will have been in Lawrence for the equivalent of a freshman year.

I know it's not D1 competition [although I'm betting KU practices will tougher than 95% plus of any D1 compettion we'll play...heck, the pick-up games may be there now!!]

Anyway, with a whole year of practices, weight-training and Danny coaching, I think this kid is going to surprise a lot of people right out of the box!!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 7 months ago

Nice article with more info on Jeff in the star http://www.kansascity.com/166/story/1254034-p2.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=8947734#Comments_Container The difference between Atchley and Jeff will be the same thing he mentions about the difference between the Arizona staff and our great staff. They are committed to making him the best player he can be, and he is responding accordingly. Watch him become the next dominant KU big man.

Scott Bonnet 10 years, 7 months ago

Can't believe the trash talking on Withey before we've seen him play. Trust thye coaching staff to toughen him up. Sasha came in soft, but look at him now. Darnell, same deal.

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 7 months ago

Withey is going to be very good.

Thanks dagger for the article.

Jeff Hargate 10 years, 7 months ago

The Georgia Tech game on New Years day 2005 was one of the best grinders ever in AFH. K-Freeze put everyone on his shoulders that day. Between that game and the game at Kentucky...wow...that team was tough. Too bad they were beat up at the end of the season. Great story, keep 'em coming!

kutravis 10 years, 7 months ago

Areana Wars @ cbssports.com.

Allen Fieldhouse vs. Gallagher-Iba Arena

VOTE HERE....

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball

KGphoto 10 years, 7 months ago

RickSuttle: Don't remember Sasha ever looking soft. He came in carved from stone. He just picked up skills. But you're right about Darnell. And from what I saw of Withey he looks like a swatting machine. It's gonna be a block party!

Keith was always one of my favorites. I must have made a dozen side bets during his career that he'd score 40 in a game. I never won that bet, but I always believed he could've. What a finisher.

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 7 months ago

Withey will be great in 2010. Self will not be plugging him right in the line-up after finals this December. And Sasha certainly bulked up between his Freshman and Senior campaigns.

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

dagger108 - great article on Withey.

I enjoy hearing quotes from players to get a feel of their character. The kids still growing. Amazing. 3500 calories/day and he's still having trouble gaining weight. I also enjoyed Withey's comment regarding the coaching differences, in that article, on gaining weight at KU as compared to arizona. It's the little things that make KU such a force. The little things such as 8 months of off season dedication, etc., etc. It sounds like Withey has bought in to the system and I bet we'll see good progression from him.

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