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Friday, June 15, 2012

Putting on a show: Keith Langford scores 47 in charity game

Tyrel Reed launches a three over Keith Langford during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic held Thursday, June 14, 2012, at Free State High.

Tyrel Reed launches a three over Keith Langford during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic held Thursday, June 14, 2012, at Free State High.

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Stretching his 6-foot-4 frame as high as possible, Keith Langford caught a lob pass from former Kansas University teammate Aaron Miles and flushed a resounding dunk in the second half of Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High’s gym.

Langford, KU’s seventh-leading scorer of all time, also wowed a sellout crowd from the outside, hitting eight three-pointers en route to a game-high 47 points in the KU Alumni Blue Team’s 111-110 victory over the Alumni Red squad.

“I said before the game I was going to come out and wanted to have fun, but at the same time I wanted to compete. This is my first time playing since the season ended,” said the 28-year-old shooting guard who led Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv to Adriatic League and Israeli League Final Four titles in 2011-12. “I was feeling pretty good man, feeling pretty good.”

Langford, who hit a deep three with three seconds left to erase a 110-107 deficit, put on a show in front of his brother, KU junior forward Justin Wesley, who watched from the stands.

“If I got the ball as many times as he did, yes,” Wesley said with a smile, asked if he could have scored 47 had he played in the game which featured 35 points from Red team guard Tyrel Reed.

“Just from him being my brother and knowing how he is ... I kind of knew he was going to be aggressive tonight,” Wesley added.

Langford shared co-hero honors with the Blue team coach, Bud Stallworth, who won a free-throw contest against Red team coach Scot Pollard to break the tie in lieu of overtime.

“We played around a little bit, but at the end the guys on our bench really wanted to win. It was a situation I had an opportunity to make it happen for them,” said Stallworth, who won “bragging rights” over his buddy, Pollard.

Stallworth’s free-throw attempt rolled in, while Pollard’s misfired.

Langford, for the record, hit 18 of 24 shots and was 3-for-3 from the free-throw line.

“Coach Self (Bill, KU) was on the bench. He said, ‘He’s just like James Harden,’” KU’s Wesley said of his brother’s resembling the Oklahoma City Thunder guard on this night.

Langford, who is a free agent this offseason, said he’s in negotiation with several European teams.

“Wherever they are paying the most money, that’s where I’m playing. That’s the bottom line,” he said.

Langford definitely thrilled the fans who came out in support of three local families battling cancer.

"In my eyes, I feel I’m one of the better players to play here,” said Langford. “Statistically you can look at that, you can look at some of the games I played in. Overall, just to be remembered is the most important thing. Hopefully my name still rings when people come up and talk about the better players who played at KU.”

Former KU shooting guard Reed, who played part of the season in Belgium before returning to begin studies in the physical-therapy program at KU Med, hit 14 of 19 shots. He swished five threes and had several thunder dunks, as did Red teammate Julian Wright, who scored 13 points.

“That’s a lot more than I had when I was here, I know that,” Reed joked of his 35 points. “I got to shoot it a lot more.

“My ankle was bugging me when I was over there,” he explained of Belgium. “It never got any better. Now that I’ve taken a couple of months off, I feel as good as I have since high school. I’m excited about the future.”

Highlights: T.J. Pugh, a doctor in Houston who specializes in treating individuals with cancer, spoke to the crowd. “I’m much more comfortable walking around a hospital than a basketball court nowadays,” he said with a smile before calling the beneficiaries of the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic — folks bravely fighting cancer — his “heroes.” ... Former KU forward Ron Kellogg hit three halfcourt shots in three tries in a shooting display right before the opening tip. ... Lester Earl — he of the chronic bad knees — had several dunks and scored 11 points. ... Christian Moody, who is in his final year of med school residency in Kansas City, had 11 points. ... Russell Robinson (Turkey) had 21 points and Brady Morningstar (Tulsa, of the NBADL) 18. Miles, who had 11 points, played in Russia last season. ... Darnell Valentine played a few minutes before letting a youngster wear his jersey and compete in the game. ... KU football coach Charlie Weis was an honorary coach. ... Neil Everett of ESPN was emcee. He hit one free throw in one attempt.

RED TEAM (110)

Russell Robinson 7-17 2-2 21, Brady Morningstar 6-10 0-0 18, Tyrel Reed 14-19 2-3 35, Nick Bradford 4-6 0-0 10, Jordan Juenemann 3-9 0-0 9, Julian Wright 6-9 1-2 13, Greg Gurley 0-4 0-0 0, Matt Kleinmann 0-1 0-0 0, Youngster from crowd 2-2 0-0 4. Threes: Morningstar 6, Robinson 5, Reed 5, Juenemann 3, Bradford 2.

BLUE TEAM (111)

Jeff Hawkins 3-6 0-0 6, Conner Teahan 3-5 0-0 9, Lester Earl 5-8 1-1 11, Ryan Robertson 3-5 0-0 8, Keith Langford 18-24 3-3 47, Darnell Valentine 0-0 0-0 0, T.J. Pugh 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Moody 5-5 1-2 11, Ron Kellogg 2-4 0-0 5, Aaron Miles 4-6 2-2 11, Bud Stallworth 0-0 1-1 1, Neil Everett 0-0 1-1 1, Youngster from crowd 1-1 0-0 2. Threes: Langford 8, Teahan 3, Robertson 2, Kellogg 1, Miles 1.

Comments

ccarp 2 years, 6 months ago

Keith is one of the many special players to play at Kansas. With Keith Freeze and Special K, he does have some of the best nicknames.

Robin Smith 2 years, 6 months ago

Langford is my all-time favorite player period.

Steve Gantz 2 years, 6 months ago

Were you around when Danny Manning played?

captku 2 years, 6 months ago

My favorite nickname had to be Milt Newton: Alfreaka. That was flat out awesome. Only guy I recall to have his own Milt-O-Meter!

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

I really liked Keith a lot when he was here (well, still do, for that matter) but I'm sorry - his name does not come to mind when I think of the top Jayhawks of all time.

Ted Hume 2 years, 6 months ago

one more time: 7th on the all-time scoring list. 7th. enough said.

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

one more time - he doesn't come to mind when i think of all time top Jayhwaks. enough said.

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

one more time - he doesn't come to mind when i think of all time top Jayhwaks. enough said.

Gregor Southard 2 years, 6 months ago

Agree with "leaf," good player, but I remember him as the guy who let his shot get blocked in a NC game. Where's Pritchard?

Joe Joseph 2 years, 6 months ago

That would be Michael Lee. Assuming you're talking about the final shot...

jhkprd 2 years, 6 months ago

I do consider him one of the better players at KU, probably top 5%. He was in the top two or three on a very successful team during his KU days. Considering 1000 players, he's in the top 50.

Kevin John 2 years, 6 months ago

Only if Micael Lee woulda blocked that last second shot!!! What coulda been.....ugh!!! Isn'y cuse still under investigation for false urin samples and smoking weed??

Jesse Johnson 2 years, 6 months ago

I will still never forget the terrible charge call on Aaron Miles in the first half after he made a layup where the defender was clearly moving. It was immediately followed by another one of McNamara's 6 first half three pointers. That's a 5-6 point swing in a game that was decided by 3 points. I also think it was a momentum killer for us.

That being said, like konkeyD points out, you can't blame the refs for 12-30 from the free throw line.

jhox 2 years, 6 months ago

I was in one of the end zones and just remember that first half when McNamara was coming off screens full speed, floating sideways in the air and hitting 24 foot shots. He was unconscious. I also recall the free throw problems. If Collison just hits 50% I seem to recall thinking that would have been enough for the win. The better team lost that night, unfortunately. An NCAA tournament theme that is all too frequent for KU.

Cameron Cederlind 2 years, 6 months ago

Cause weed sure is a performance enhancing drug., props to Syracuse if they beat us while they were all high. And it was Hakim Warrick who blocked the shot.

Curtis Stutz 2 years, 6 months ago

23 mins 7 of 9 from the field for 19 pts, Langford was epic in that title game, refs took him out of it on a lot of bad calls. I'm not going to sit here and say that as a team the refs stole the title from KU, but for Keither Langford the refs stole his chance to dominate a NC game, no doubt about it. Melo got the hero calls against him when he should have been called for charges throwing his shoulder into his chest, Langford got called for charges when he was flat out being sideswiped. The 2-3 zone has no answer for KeithFreeze. Best slasher KU's ever had, don't know where that puts him on the all-time players list, but the first step and body control that guy possesses are nothing short of phenomenal. I'm just glad he's still getting to play big time ball and make big time bucks. It's a good life Mr. Langford, enjoy the fact that you're cruising around the world instead of playing some place like Charlotte, Toronto or Milwaukee.

wannabe 2 years, 6 months ago

Two words "The Truth" I can't speak to previous eras but there is no way to claim that LK is the best slasher we ever had when we had a guy by the name of Paul Pierce playing for us. I will be tuned in to his HOF speach. As I am sure KL will. I somhow doubt any of us will ever be listining to KL's HOF speach.

theboehr 2 years, 6 months ago

are people still talking about this game?

FarneyMac 2 years, 6 months ago

Tell me more about Youngster From Crowd. Is he a top-100 recruit? How many Rivals stars? Where can I find his jersey?

Ryan Shelton 2 years, 6 months ago

He was 2 for 2. Put the ball in his hands more!

aralls 2 years, 6 months ago

Keith was a great slasher and could really finish at the rim.

FinalFinal 2 years, 6 months ago

Langford would be in the rafters had he played all four years under Roy.

The fact Vaughan and Hinrich are in the rafters is complete BS that Keith is not.

Self was a jerk to Keith and Keith was likewise to Self but it does not change the fact he needs to have #5 up there.

nuleafjhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

Not trying to be arguementative, just curious - I've not heard (or don't remember!) Keith and Coach having problems with each other.

Did I totally miss the boat on that whole scene?

Kyle Rohde 2 years, 6 months ago

@nuleafjhawk, read Jason King's "Beyond the Phog" book, there was definitely a lot of tension when Roy left and Self took over. It was nobody's fault, I don't think, and pretty unavoidable in that situation.

@FinalFinal, Vaughn and Hinrich got their jerseys up in the rafters based on the set criteria, didn't they? Vaughn's was actually because of his academics, and Hinrich's was for being all-american, maybe?

Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 6 months ago

"Youngster From Crowd" was seen talking to Zach Peters about how early an oral commitment can be made. Because of NCAA recruiting rules, Bill Self then had to put his hands over his ears and said.."I'm not supposed to be talking to you now son". And, that's why the kid's name can't be mentioned in this article.

shottybotch 2 years, 6 months ago

I feel bad for Kleinman, even the youngster scored more than he did

Tony Bandle 2 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, but can the kid design an office building with an underground parking garage??!!

Tony Bandle 2 years, 6 months ago

If I recall, Keith was listed at 6'-6" when he was playing at Kansas. I guess, like the U.S. Dollar, when you go to Europe, you shrink.

chicagojayhawk87 2 years, 6 months ago

I think we can safely assume now every KU player will lose two inches the moment they go to pro ball.

Curtis Stutz 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't think he was listed at 6'6", Giddens was there at the same time and listed at that height I think

chicagojayhawk87 2 years, 6 months ago

Lester Earl... man he could dunk. I remember one game someone threw about a 1/2 court pass, laser no more than two feet above the rim the entire time, to a one handed Lester Earl dunk..AT THE BUZZER, halftime. The refs didn't count it, but they showed it in replays during halftime and he clearly got it in. It was epic. I was a little kid, but man I will never forget that dunk. It's too bad he had bad knees because the guy was crazy athletic.

jhox 2 years, 6 months ago

I believe the NBA has come calling a number of times, wanting him to try out for various teams, but Keith has definitely pursued the money. And there is nothing wrong with that. Why take the NBA minimum when you can be the highest paid player in the foreign leagues? At least I seem to recall reading that somewhere.

Too bad he didn't give the NBA at least one more shot, though. He seems to have the kind of scoring mentality, and ability, that the NBA loves. He may have been a little short sighted in not giving the NBA another go. It's probably too late now, though, as he's getting up there in age and probably would have a hard time working his way into a lucrative high dollar, long term contract.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 6 months ago

If you're talking best careers at Kansas, he's probably top 10-15.

Top all-time players may be a slightly different. You could probably argue ten guys who were better players since the time Langford began playing at Kansas.. Hinrich, Collison, Simien, Chalmers, Rush, Arthur, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Aldrich, Collins, Robinson.

Preston Dwiggins 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree with all the names, but Arthur. He needed to stay his Junior year to finish getting polished, but he left and I understand, but he's not better than Langford IMO.

RJ King 2 years, 6 months ago

Hinrich and Collison were actually before him. Langford was in the class with Simien and Miles. Roy bailed after their sophomore season. Their junior year Self also inherited Roy's recruiting class featuring Padgett and Giddens. Their ranking fluctuated from #1-20's with an eventual elite 8 loss to Georgia Tech. As seniors, they lost to Bucknell in Self's second year.

It took awhile for Bill to get buy-in for the hi-lo offense, and the intense defense he prefers (to Roy's more ad-lib style). I felt that both Miles and Simien were keys to the patience it took to adjust to the new era. I very much liked Keith's game, but never felt he was much of a leader. Miles and Simien seemed to emerge from the turmoil with the most maturity.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 6 months ago

I assume this was a response to my post. Note how I said "there were probably ten guys who were better since the time Langford began playing."

Since the time. As in people who were there during and after his arrival.

Steve Gantz 2 years, 6 months ago

I loved Keith and that 03 team. As some have mentioned here though the NC game against 'Cuse is the most painful loss in my 25 years of following KU. I've had opportunities to watch the rerun but never have.

Curtis Stutz 2 years, 6 months ago

I'd love to watch it again, I was pretty vehement about my hatred for 'Cuse during that game with some of the calls. Would be good to rewatch with a cooler head/calmer mind and see how upset I should have been at the time. I believe I through something and knocked a picture off the wall when Langford fouled out.

Eric TheCapn 2 years, 6 months ago

'Shoes' Langford is still my favorite KU player ever. So fun to watch. I wish he could have been on the court in the last 10 seconds of that '03 title game... and I wish I could watch him these days. He just tore up Israel and won the Adriatic League Final Four MVP.

He's making bank over there, I don't blame him for following the money over the NBA. Freeze plays real ball, not show ball; unfortunately the NBA is about the latter.

Warren 2 years, 6 months ago

I think my favorite thing about Langford was reading his articles in the UDK.

theend 2 years, 6 months ago

I liked Keith a lot.......great player. And I find his his honesty about money $$$$$ refreshing. I'm tired of all these wishy-washy answers that pro-athletes often give.

What's wrong with going for the money???? He has talent and it's in demand. I don't blame him one bit. There is nothing wrong with being successful and you SHOULD NOT have to apologize for it!!

jaybate 2 years, 6 months ago

Keith was the first of the guys that Self turned inside out at KU.

Keith was this beautiful offensive thoroughbred with swagger and Self basically turned him into a second option, glue three in order to put the team on Wayne's back and play down the middle with Aaron and Wayne.

Back then no one really understood what Self was about, just that he was a coach on a fast track that had won everywhere he had been. Everyone early on thought the key to Self was his recruiting; that he was this super recruiter who would bring in even more talent than Roy and be a wilier bench coach down the stretch of games a la Larry Brown.

Back then people did not get the man-up defense and rebounding thing and the 70 point take what they give us, plus turn it into grind-it-out when ever you have to to get the win.

Back then people were expecting a coach to put a running team on the floor.

They didn't know that they were getting an Eddie Baller pragmatist. Few even understood what Eddie Ball was all about.

And Keith, who saw himself as this race horse Roy Baller, but with Bill Self-grade swagger, suddenly found himself being given Bill Self's ultimate honor--glue 3 with some wing point initiations--the very heart and soul of Bill Self basketball, and KLang was saying don't give me this shizz. Let me run and score 30. I'm the man. I played second fiddle last season. This is my year to ring up draft choice numbers.

So Keith and Self got into a power struggle and Keith went into the toughening box, yet another sign of how much Self believed in Keith, planned to rely on him, but it was a language of belief and respect that Keith did not speak. Keith did not speak Okie Baller.

And then Keith got injured and Self did one of his play injured things and Keith, who turned out finally to be one of Self's toughest nuts inside, did it. At the time, many thought Keith should have been set to get well. I thought he should have been thrown a medical red shirt. But that's not the Self way. The Self way is play injured, play even if it jeopardizes your future, play till you literally can't walk. Do it for the team that needs you now, not next year.

And Keith did it. And it cost him.

Just like it cost Sasha Kaun, and Sherron Colliins, and Mario Little, and Tyrell Reed. and maybe Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, and Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford.

jaybate 2 years, 6 months ago

Self demands guys to sacrifice their bodies for him and the team.

If they do, then he is loyal to them forever.

If they don't, they get the cold shoulder, the wait until next season and let's see if you're tougher by then.

Keith sacrificed.

Despite their power struggle, in the end, Keith sacrificing his body for Self won Self's lasting respect.

Keith was, frankly, the role model for all of Self's gritty, swaggering, but body sacrificing, team-oriented players to come at KU.

I believe someday when Self rights his memoirs about his years at KU, when he writes his version of Wooden's "They Call Me Coach," that Keith Langford, and his struggle with Keith Langford, was crucial for setting the tone for all the success that was to come at KU. Simien was Self's first great player at KU, the first guy that Self forced to carry a team on his back. But it was Keith Langford that was the first great impact player, star type player, that Self asked to subordinate himself completely to the team and become a glue three with some wing point duties. And it is what Self does with these kinds of players, the kind of emotional working over, and toughening, and struggle to break them out of the one dimensional star molds they inhabit and break them into this ferocious, swaggering, multi-dimensional team player that truly separates Self's teams from the rest of the teams playing college basketball.

One day, probably when Langford hangs it up in pro ball, Self will probably see to it that Keith's jersey goes up in Allen Field House. But he won't do it until Keith finishes his pro career, because Bill Self is still driving Keith to get better.

The quote in the story above where Self is reported to have likened Keith to James Harden is the key.

James Harden is an exceptionally gifted player who can do it all and do it all within the team framework. James Harden is who Keith Langford could still be, may be already would have been had Self not forced him to play through his injuries at KU. Self saying Keith is like James Harden is Self paying still more of his respects to a player he probably feels deeply attached to and responsible for.

jaybate 2 years, 6 months ago

It is also Self trying to spur Keith on to keep getting better.

Comments like Self's get around to a player one way or another.

P.S.: When board rats ask why a lot of recruits won't sign on with Self, I think it is partly because a lot of them understand that this willingness to sacrifice one's body, to possibly play out of position for the good of the team, is the level of commitment one must be willing to make to become one of Self's trusted, core players and that only certain 4-5 star players are willing to make this kind of a commitment--to risk becoming like Keith Langford playing in Europe, instead of like James Harden, playing in the NBA. He asks not less than everything.

(Note: all of the above is opining and speculation. I have no insider knowledge of Coach Self and Keith Langford. It could all be different than I speculate...but I doubt it.)

HawkKlaw 2 years, 6 months ago

"Hopefully my name still rings when people come up and talk about the better players who played at KU.”

Don't worry Keith, it does (c'mon people, it's not like he said he was one of the top 5 Jayhawks of all time...). I'll always think of Keith Langford as one of the best dunkers in KU history along with Julian Wright...ridiculous air!

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