(Men's Basketball Team, Heads, And Action On Monday, October 10, 2011 In Auburn, Al.)
The Southeast Missouri State men's basketball program has added a transfer who is a former top-ranked high school player in Alabama.
Josh Langford, a 6-foot-7, 215-pounder who played two seasons at Auburn, enrolled at Southeast for the second semester that began Monday. His first practice with the Redhawks will be today, although he won't be eligible for games until next December.
"We're very pleased to announce that Josh is joining our basketball program, our family. It's very exciting to land a big recruit like this," Southeast coach Dickey Nutt said. "Here's a guy that was highly recruited out of high school, a top-100 player. He is left-handed and very explosive. He can play multiple positions, inside and outside."
Langford will miss a handful of contests next season before becoming eligible after the first semester. He then will have one final year of eligibility in 2014-15.
Nutt said the plan is for Langford to play a wing position for Southeast, which basically combines the shooting guard and small forward roles.
"We're going to zone in on that, a big wing player we've really needed," Nutt said. "He's a slasher, one of the top wings in the country [coming out of high school]."
Langford, who was at Monday's practice but did not participate, said he is excited about joining the Southeast program. He said a recent visit that included the Redhawks' narrow loss to Murray State on national television sealed the deal.
"I loved it," Langford said of the game attended by nearly 5,000 fans at the Show Me Center. "I came on the visit and just liked the environment, the team and coaches. I love them, just like my brothers. It's a program I want to be a part of."
Langford was ranked Alabama's No. 1 player as a senior at Lee High School in Huntsville. He averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds in helping Lee win the 2009-10 Class 5A state championship. He was the MVP of the state title game and also earned MVP honors at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
Langford originally committed to Louisville before signing with Auburn. He played in all 31 games as a freshman in 2010-11, with 12 starts. He averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range.
Langford was suspended for the first six games of the 2011-12 campaign and suffered a concussion early in the Southeastern Conference season that caused him to miss the rest of the year.
He played in just 14 games, including five starts, averaging 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds with 53.6-percent field-goal shooting.
Langford was dismissed by Auburn coach Tony Barbee for violation of team rules last April following the season. He attended Auburn for the first semester this year but did not play basketball.
"Things just didn't work out as planned. When that happens you just have to move on," Langford said about his time at Auburn.
Nutt said he and Southeast officials gathered plenty of information regarding Langford's dismissal from the Auburn program and came to the conclusion that he is worth bringing into Southeast's program as a player and person.
Tony Madlock, a current Auburn assistant and a former assistant under Nutt at Arkansas State, was among the people Nutt talked to about Langford.
"They all believe he's a good kid," Nutt said. "We did our research on it. We feel very comfortable. I feel like everybody makes mistakes and deserves a second chance."
Langford said he also considered Alabama, Clemson and Richmond, among other programs, before deciding on Southeast.
Nutt credits the big crowd and exciting atmosphere for the Murray State game with helping the Redhawks have the upper hand in landing Langford.
"That's why I appreciate our fans so much," Nutt said. "Our staff did a super job with Josh, but more importantly, our fans, our facility. ... He walked away from the game saying, 'Coach, I want to be a part of this.'
Langford said it won't be tough just watching his new teammates in game action for nearly a calendar year. He said he'll put his practice time to good use.
"I think it'll help me," he said. "Just learning the system. I'm a hard worker ... just working on my craft. Cheer the guys on and get ready for next year."
Langford is the second Division I transfer to join the Redhawks this school year.
Former Central Florida player Wayne Martin Jr., a 6-7 forward who has been practicing with the Redhawks all season, will have three years of eligibility beginning next season.
Also practicing with the Redhawks for the past few weeks has been freshman point guard C.J. Reese, who joined the program for the second semester after becoming academically eligible.
Reese will redshirt, meaning he will have four years of eligibility beginning next season.
"I think it's a big advantage to be able to practice and get adjusted to things, for all three of these guys. We feel like it's really going to help them," Nutt said.
Junior forward Michael Porter returned to practice Monday on a limited basis. Nutt is hopeful Porter soon can play in his first game of the season, perhaps even this week when Southeast hosts Morehead State on Thursday and Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
Porter has been out since suffering a broken foot during preseason practice. Before breaking his foot, he already was hobbled after he suffered a torn labrum in his hip for the second time.
Porter's absence has hampered Southeast's frontcourt depth, forcing junior Tyler Stone and sophomore Nino Johnson to play more minutes than ideal.
"It's great to have Michael back doing some things. We'll just have to see what his progress is like," Nutt said. "We've really missed him, his toughness and experience. He means a lot to our team."