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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Keith Langford: Little brother Justin Wesley, KU will surprise

Former Kansas basketball player Keith Langford, who graduated from KU in 2005, has a younger brother, Justin Wesley, who will play for the KU men's basketball team during 2010-11 season.

Former Kansas basketball player Keith Langford, who graduated from KU in 2005, has a younger brother, Justin Wesley, who will play for the KU men's basketball team during 2010-11 season.

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Former Kansas University standout Keith Langford — who played professional basketball in Moscow last season — was eager to hit the gym with his brother, Justin Wesley, at a family reunion last summer in Texas.

A little 1-on-1 action affirmed what the 6-foot-4 Langford had heard about his sibling: That the 6-9 former Lamar University forward had become a much more polished player during his red-shirt transfer season at KU.

“I was not only proud, but surprised at the level he’s taken in basketball. He’s come a long way,” Langford said Tuesday. “The way he’s improved his body ... I actually had to exert a little more energy playing against him,” the always-brash Langford added with a laugh.

Langford, who at 28 is in the prime of his pro career, at times found it difficult to hoist shots over sophomore power forward Wesley, who is known for his raw athleticism and shot-blocking ability.

“We’ll call it goaltending. It was nothing clean, man,” Langford, KU’s seventh-leading scorer of all time, said of his baby brother deflecting a shot or two.

Will Wesley ever defeat Langford?

“It won’t happen until I retire. I’m not quite ready to give that up yet,” Keith said.

All joking aside, Langford can see why KU coach Bill Self says the 220-pound Wesley, who averaged 1.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 9.9 minutes per game during his freshman year at Lamar, “will definitely be part of the rotation” this season.

“I have a little bias because Justin’s my brother, but there may be (only) a handful of guys as athletic as he is in college basketball, honestly,” Langford said. “I think he has a lot of pieces that need to come together so he can establish himself on this level. If he can put a couple things together, which obviously is the job of the coaching staff, then, I mean, he can really do some things to be successful.

“It’s obvious why his red-shirt year was so important. With some of the guys (Jamari Traylor, Ben McLemore) ineligible and him thrust onto the scene, it’s going to help him a lot,”

Langford said his brother has been in good hands in little over a year at KU.

“He got better working under (big man coach) Danny Manning. He got better because the (Morris) twins and Thomas Robinson got to kick his (butt) a year while he red-shirted,” Langford said.

“Learning how to prepare on a championship level for a year ... that experience is invaluable for putting things together consistently. If he can do that, he will have a special story to tell at the end of the day.”

Wesley has worked overtime on his body ... and his face-up jumper.

“Coach Manning emphasized that had to be one of my shots I had to knock down,” Wesley said. “My shot has come along real well. I’ve gotten better on the skills in my game. My IQ has gotten better. I am a totally different player from when I came here. I knew that was going to happen.

“Sitting out a year and learning the plays and how we do everything has been very important to me in my development as a person and basketball player. It’s given me a leg up.”

Self plans to be patient with the still-developing Wesley.

“He’s probably as quick an athlete as we’ve had since we’ve been here. He’s really athletic,” Self said. “Offensively he’s a little limited, but certainly he is smart and understands the game. He is a guy we shouldn’t count on to come in and score double figures and get double-figure rebounds. He’ll grow into that. He’s come a long ways in 12 months.”

Wesley is motivated to make a name for himself at his brother’s alma mater.

“I was in fourth grade during Keith’s freshman year. I’d come to games with my mom. I’d sit in the student section,” Wesley said. “I used to get thrown up (in air) during the games. I was like, ‘Man these people love this game that much, love this team that much.’ That’s what strikes me.

“It’s a blessing to come here and go to the same school as my brother. I look at my brother as my idol. What he did here was incredible to me. I don’t try to fill his shoes. I try to fill my own shoes. It’s what he told me to do.”

Wesley was recently rewarded with a scholarship for the 2011-12 school year. Keith, who earned $1.3 million last season, took care of the tuition bill a year ago.

“That might be the best news out of everything. I might get to go on vacation this summer now,” Langford said with a laugh.

As far as when and where he’ll be heading to work ... Langford, who lives with his newlywed bride in Austin, Texas, has been rumored to be negotiating with a team in Israel and another in Spain a month after being receiving a buyout of his contract in Russia.

“I’m at a point now with my career, not only does the basketball situation have to be right, but the money situation has to be right too,” Langford said. “Combined with my settlement with Khimki (Moscow) and combination of what the deal will be where I land next ... it’s a matter of making the money line up. I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation where I can be patient. There’s a lot of interest out there,” added Langford, who also is monitoring the NBA lockout situation with the possibility of his attending training camp with a team.

“Right now I’m working out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been home in October. I was in Lawrence for Late Night for the first time since I graduated. It was really good to be back. I got to see Justin practice and I even got out there and ran up and down with the guys.”

He gave this assessment of the current KU team: “I think lot of people have underestimated them,” he said. “I think a lot will be pleasantly surprised like I was. On paper, it’s like, ‘Where is it gonna come from?’ You get on the court and see them and it looks good. I am not exaggerating. I think they’ll be all right. I know they have a tough schedule, but I like the team.”

As does his brother. “We don’t waste any days. We will be excited. We will work hard,” Wesley promised.

Comments

rockchalkchampionship 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm excited to watch Wesley this year. We all know he'll never be as good as his brother but with three more years under Self and Manning, Wesley could be a big contributer by his senior year.

On a side note, are we giving scholarships to Juenemann, Roberts and Garrett this year too since the other guys are ineligible or how is that going to work with multiple scholarships left to give?

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hawk316 2 years, 10 months ago

Wesley may turn out to be the proverbial "diamond in the rough." It will be fun to watch him grow and develop the next three years.

And how fortunate are we to have Danny Manning on this staff? Wow. What he does with bigs is something special. Are you getting this, Kaleb?

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KUDUDE 2 years, 10 months ago

THE OTHER THAT WILL NOT BE INELIGIBLE THIS YEAR WILL KEEP THERE SCHOLARSHIPS

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

"Justin's Alive!"

Self says Justin is a single digit rebounder and scorer.

Talk about keeping expectations low!

Yet Self says he is one of the quickest big men he has recruited at KU and be in the rotation.

Hmmmmmm.

Are Bill and Danny playing Dr. Frankenstein and Igor late on a stormy, lightening filled night stitching together a Chris Piper with hops to go with Thomas?

Justin may become Self's first glue big man in awhile, since Marcus Morris as a freshman.

Justin is going to guard the power forward and master the seven foot J off a dish from a double and triple teamed Thomas.

Beautiful.

Ed Manning has to be smiling up in heaven. Ed was who stitched Chris together to fit with Danny, and made LB shout, "He's alive!"

And Danny has to be saying, "We're taking this page from you, pop."

And LB has been around saying, "Guys, remember, you fit the pieces of a team together, like my Rolex here. Every guy doesn't have to be a jewel. Ever watch needs a stem winder. Ya got a kid who could be a perfect glue big Thomas. Don't be schmendriks. Build a team like my Uncle Isi built watches for god sakes, like a jeweler.

So: Manning keeps stitching on the kid, keeps tightening him here, keeps adding some clearance there, keeps waiting for lightening that will arc the kid all together, till an athletic glue 4 is built and Danny and Bill shout:

"He' alive! Justin our monster glue man, he's alive!"

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

And for the schmendriks that worry about my mixing metaphors, that was the point! Its a Franken-post!

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Jonathan Allison 2 years, 10 months ago

Dr. Frankenstein's monster will be the combination of Kevin Young and Justin Wesley. Those two combined give the team one player capable of being a safety valve for a double teamed TRob with ball skills and an outside shot, and also a tenacious energy man who will go after every rebound and dive for every loose ball.

I just have a feeling that Justin has the kind of motor that this team needs. He is going out there with a chip on his shoulder. He's got something to prove, and he'll waste not a single joule to make his case. He has to earn the scholarship that he lucked into, and he will by attacking the glass and scrapping for every loose ball. And who knows, maybe he'll make a niche for himself a la a young Dennis Rodman.

Rodman before he was The Worm, was a hyper athlete who lacked an elite skill set but made him name by attacking the glass, playing defense and giving 120% every game.

Kevin Young will bring the offensive skills and the perimeter game that will make this tandem a 1-2 punch that will be just enough to make sure TRob doesn't have to carry the frontcourt alone. TRob when he can't get a look or a seam to the basket won't have to force it, but if he does Justin can clean up for him. Kevin Young will keep defenses honest. Knowing that they can't just double up on TRob because KU will have 4 other guys on the floor who can score at will.

Young and Wesley may never be on the floor together (only in emergencies), but they won't have to. The coaches will be deliberate about which side of the coin they need in which situation, all the while trying to develop each half into a complete package.

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Harrison Green 2 years, 10 months ago

Not a good title for the article. The only way KU basketball can surprise is not winning the Big 12 and 30 games. As eminem would say Ku basketball is coming back to reality.

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nicka 2 years, 10 months ago

For the record, it's "snap back to reality"...and I don't think Eminem would say that, or anything else about KU hoops.

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Woody Cragg 2 years, 10 months ago

Just got half way through "Beyond the Phog" & Langford's story is good, really informational. Making over 2 mil a yr in Europe is pretty damn good. Also the piece on the kidney failure was something this old man had never heard of. Am enjoying the read really well. If you don't buy it, borrow it.

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KU1965 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm still waiting for our library to get a copy or find it for me on inter library loan.

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JHawk74 2 years, 10 months ago

It sounds like Wesley has gained 20 lbs in his red-shirt year. That is great news. If he can gain another 10-20 lbs by next year he will sure be able to bang in the middle for his Junior and Senior years. I think Bill Self is saying he won't play enough to average double digit rebounds or points this year but will be in the rotation. Bill Self is not saying is not capable of putting up double digit rebounds or points. If he would average 3-4 points and 4-5 rebounds a game in about 8-12 minutes a game that would be very good support for the main guys in the rotation of Robinson, Young and Withey. It appears we are going to have a very athletic team this year. We are going to be young this year but won't rely on a freshman with potential (X. Henry & Selby) to to play on the team as we have had to do in recent years. We have newcomers to the program but at least Young and Wesley has some college playing time already at different schools. Tharpe will play but we have several guards capable of running the point guard position (Taylor & Johnson).

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

Toughness he has to have to have survived two boot camps and year of practice forearm smashes and XTReme Cheap Shot training with Cus, Kieff and Thomas. :-)

Though his interaction with the press did not reveal it in his playing days, what makes Keith stand out as a human being is that he has athleticism, toughness, and a keen mind...in one package.

Keith is just a very bright human being, whether or not he scored high on tests in college.

I can tell from his quotes he can think quickly and on his feet.

And he's competitive as the day is long.

It all equals accomplishment.

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Steve Brown 2 years, 10 months ago

Crimson and Blue Bloodlines, love it.

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REHawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Comforting comments from Bill Self re Justin's development. Sounds as though he is a player who will offer much over these 3 years of remaining eligibility, esp. after his face-up jumper improves. Redshirt years are invlaluable to guys like Releford, Young, Withey, Wesley, Teahan. Those players get to practice year around with outstanding starters, then reappear in the lineup with polished skills and something to prove. Chippy assertiveness, like, "Okay, watch this! Now is my time." Also, their academic pressures line up less intensely, and degrees can be earned at a more leisurely pace. Kudos to Keith for looking after his brother's transfer last season. Is terrific that he has cracked the million dollar annual earnings while playing in Europe. He underwent stressful times, adjusting to the Williams/Self coaching change, but has hung in there with strong allegiance to the Jayhawk program. I hope to see him back on campus often when he eventually leaves the hardwood. We are seeing fewer and fewer super talented 4 year players stay the course.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 10 months ago

All you great posters out there, allow me to commit the first primary cardinal sin of Jayhawk Nation and start talking about next year.

Wesley - bigger, stronger, quicker, better Elijah - The potential leader of the team Jeff - True skyscraper potential realized Kaleb - The other twin tower Naadir - Aaron, Sherron and Jacque rolled up in one package Zach - Football mentality in a power forward body Kevin - Lean, mean scoring machine Ben - Older, stronger, wiser and very offensive Jamari - Bigger, tougher, dominator Travis - Potential co-leader with The Prophet oh yeah, and some kid named Perry...how good could he be??

This year will be fun...next year will be domination!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

Beat you to it.

I was salivating over the 7-8 deep bigs in the paint next season last night.

And I believe you are leaving out Self will land one 5, or 4 star perimeter player as he almost always does.

Oh, Shabazz, we're waiting!!

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

Plastichawk,

I believe you are right, but I would add Withey to the mix.

Young, Justin and Withey are going to committee the other post and give TRob 3-5 minute breathers each half.

Between the three of them, Self can choose to deny the short game with Withey swatting, guard and chase the post with Justin, or score with Kevin; that's a pretty fair opportunity set.

But each guy has to defend well, or their lightness is going to make the very vulnerable.

It was promising that Self thinks Justin has the ability to grow into a double-double guy next season.

Comparing Justin to Worm may be a stretch however.

I see the point you are trying to make there, but Worm came out of the birth canal as a rebounding savant.

If Justin shows that sort of sixth sense that Bill Bridges, Cole Aldrich, TRob and a few others have shown over the years, then Justin could certainly be gold.

My hunch is that he is more like a Piper with bounce, but you never know.

When Self says someone is as quick as anyone big he's recruited at Kansas, and could be a double double guy down the road, then he may be one of that rare breed like Tyrel Reed that can just work his tail off and keeping relentlessly better in small increments that eventually accrue into a formidable player.

Just have to see how he does.

One acid test is: can he play without mental errors and TOs?

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

In Self world, anyone who can gets very tough to keep off the floor, if they can also defend their position.

Justin certainly got a Broadway break, when Traylor had to sit. The likely understudy gets a crack at putting on the grease paint every night and playing to a packed house.

Justin can learn to play Self Ball in D1 this season, then add another 10 pounds, maybe 15, and be extremely difficult to beat out for someone like Traylor.

Traylor perhaps should look into getting a Full Hudy this year and coming in next season at 250.

If Traylor comes in next year at 235 again, and Justin is weighing 230 next year, Justin will have a very big edge because of the year's experience.

This is a great case in which controlling what you can control, learning all you can, and not worrying about what you cannot control is the wise course.

I just spent awhile reading up on Admiral Chester Nimitz, who lead the US Navy in the Pacific during WWII and got so much out of so little early, and then got so much out of so much later. His guiding rule was given him by his grand father, a former merchant seaman, who raised Nimitz when Nimitz father died. The wisdom was deceptively simple, deep as the ocean, accessible to any one.

"the sea - like life itself - is a stern taskmaster. The best way to get along with either is to learn all you can, then do your best and don't worry - especially about things over which you have no control."

Self should put this on the bulletin board for this team.

There is a lot they cannot control, because they are not quite as deep as they have been in the past.

But Danny Manning was in a similar situation his senior season.

And look what happened!

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jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

erratum: plasticJHawk. Please accept my apologies for misspelling your alias. I meant no disrespect.

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baldwinjhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

Hey maybe we can get louisville, west virginia and cincinnati into the new big 12 by next year to give us someone to play in bball! They would be a definite improvement to our rpi instead of playing Mizwho twice.. They need to just go and get it over with..

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Jack Wilson 2 years, 10 months ago

Ok .. after reading the posts above, we surprise and go the Elite Eight this season with a team that gets better as the season progresses; and we win the national title next season.

Good thread. Optimism. Made my day.

And I can't wait to see Releford play 30+ minutes a game .....

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Joe Baker 2 years, 10 months ago

You know it seems that every year we have high expectations or high rank, we win the conference, maybe the conf tourney and go 1-3 rounds in ncaa tourney only to lose.

This year, we may have low expectations, miss the conf (hope not), fair well in conf tourney and go really deep or win the NC. It's crazy logic but possible.

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Joe Baker 2 years, 10 months ago

Why not? If it means another NC, I'm all for it.

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lothario64118 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure Releford can't wait to play 30= mins a game as well. He's been patient.

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Robin Smith 2 years, 10 months ago

it's going to be a good season.

all the chicken littles should remember this moment before the season and then own up after the season is over.

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texashawk10 2 years, 10 months ago

This team is still very talented, and the only real major concern I have for this team is there isn't the depth that there's been in past years but that only becomes an issue if this team has injury problems and Releford seems to be the only player that has injury problems so I'm not all that concerned about it.

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Pitthawk34 2 years, 10 months ago

Depth may be a concern but on the other hand last year I felt that at times we looked like hockey team out there and looked to me like when players come in and out we hit a wall trying to find playing time for everyone. Last year I just felt we were to worried about everyones minutes but then again I could be wrong. I love that we have no expections nationally this year but still expect losing 7 or 8 this year just because our schedule is loaded and I mean loaded. If we lose <4 this year we might as well put up a bronze statue of Self. That would be unbelievable.

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DrPepper 2 years, 10 months ago

Speaking of little brothers: Nick Collison's younger brother Michael is a 6-10 sophomore at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, their father's alma mater.

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