Riley's Damezi Anderson excited by Romeo Langford's IU commitment
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With the grasp of a hat and the roar of a crowd, Indiana University took another massive step towards national prominence in college basketball.
Newly crowned Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford's commitment to the Hoosiers brought immediate elation among IU fans throughout the state, ending a lengthy recruitment process for the state's highest-ranked senior player.
Langford's announcement caps an impressive 2018 haul for the Hoosiers, who will welcome five new players including South Bend Riley star Damezi Anderson.
"It feels good to have Romeo – the top player that he is," said Anderson, whose desire to work towards next season grew even more. "It motivates me to get better. I know he’s a good player. I know he’s going to bring it every night, so it’s just making sure I’m pushing myself to bring it with him."
Despite both being Indiana natives, the two commits hail from opposite borders. Anderson grew up minutes away from Michigan, and Langford is a short drive from Kentucky.
The two have exchanged messages, but had always done so sparingly. That meant the uncertainty around Langford's recruitment extended to his future teammates as well.
“He’s kind of quiet, so it was kind of hard to tell where he wanted to go. But with yesterday, I guess it was the best fit for him so it'll be a good brotherhood for all of us."
Anderson was in contact with another IU commit on Monday though, as he and Lafayette McCutcheon star Rob Phinisee spoke over FaceTime about their excitement for the new class.
"We just talked about how we could be really special next year," said Anderson. "He’s a really good point guard and can get everybody the ball. With me and Romeo on the wings, it should be fun."
Those three make up the largest group of in-state talent the Hoosiers have captured in several years.
Anderson has long discussed his love of playing for the city of South Bend, and believes doing so for his entire home state could be just as special.
“Going to Indiana means everything to people that support us: our fans, our family," he said. "Just representing our state is a good piece of history. Being one of the three, it’s been a while since we did that so it’s good.”
Both Anderson and Langford have something to prove at the next level.
Beyond the obvious individual improvement they want to make, both enter the college game after experiencing disappointment in their last high school games.
The two were each one win away from meeting in the 4A state championship in March. However, Anderson's undefeated Riley squad and Langford's high-powered New Albany team both fell at semi-state.
Now, they'll have a chance to work for some hardware together.
"We both have the same mindset," said Anderson. "He loves to win. I love to win. We hate to lose. So it's just being humble and hungry. We could get a national championship next year, but we just have to work together, make sure we push each other, and make sure everybody's on the right page."
Before embarking on his college career, Anderson still has a few milestones to enjoy such as prom and high school graduation.
But in June, he'll be all in with the rest of his new teammates at Indiana.
"This summer, I’m really just trying to bust my butt off and work as much as I can so I can be prepared for next year," he said. "You’ve got to be stronger and faster because everybody is good at the next level so you can’t joke around. I want to get down there a little early so I can work out and get the feel of it before [the school year] comes."
That work ethic is what Anderson hopes to be known for in Bloomington.
There may be another supremely talented scorer to compete with on the wing, but he knows IU head coach Archie Miller will find a role for anyone who earns it.
“If you can play, you’re going to play. So you just gotta put in the work. Make sure you listen, and make sure you’re being respectful, helping others and being a leader. I think everything will go fine.”