NO. 14 ROMEO LANGFORD
Position: Guard. College: Indiana
Langford, who was ESPN’s No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2018 and Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, played one college season in his home state at Indiana University before declaring for the NBA Draft. With the Hoosiers, he started 32 games and averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists but was limited by a lingering thumb injury.
“If they would have been more on the national radar, and he would have not hurt his thumb, he probably would have been even more discussed,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said at the Auerbach Center on Thursday. “He’s a guy we were all aware of before his first game at IU.”
Here’s what you need to know about Langford.
He was the guy in the state of Indiana
Langford graduated New Albany High School as the fourth-leading scorer in Indiana high school basketball history with 3,002 points. He led the Bulldogs to a 25-2 record, averaging 35.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and three steals per game his senior season.
He reportedly considered Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, UCLA, and Vanderbilt, among other schools, but he decided to stay close to home.
“He’s been a good player for a long time,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that, as far as the state of Indiana high school basketball, was probably as followed as anybody in the last 15 years.”
Not surprisingly, as an Indiana guy himself, Stevens has followed Langford closely for a while. Stevens called him a long, versatile, athletic wing who can handle the ball. He said he’s capable of playing multiple positions and thriving in the pick and roll.
“He can do a lot of things on the basketball court,” Stevens said. “He’s been well-coached, both in high school and in college, and he’s a guy that we think has a lot of things that translate to the NBA.”
Danny Ainge isn’t worried about Langford’s thumb long-term
Langford tore a ligament in his thumb in late November at IU, but he played through the pain and didn’t miss a game all year. His shooting numbers were lower than one might expect given his talent, as he shot 44.8 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from 3-point range.
“I think that’s something he’s going to continue to have to work on to improve,” Stevens said. “I don’t think that there’s any doubt. If you picked an area he’s going to have to work on, that would be it. He’s a better shooter than he shot this year.”
Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, said he isn’t worried about the injury long term, noting that the team’s doctors will take a look at the hand when Langford arrives in Boston.
He, too, acknowledged Langford’s shooting wasn’t great in college, but he expects that trend to rectify itself with time.
“He didn’t shoot the ball as great this year,” Ainge said. “He was playing with a messed up thumb and had surgery on it.”
Langford is more of a slasher than a pure shooter, and he could help fill a void the Celtics had last year as they struggled to get to the free-throw line.
He may or may not be ready for Summer League
The Summer League starts July 5, and Celtics fans will certainly want to see Langford in action.
While it’s possible the shooting guard will see the court, it’s also possible he’ll rest as he continues to recover from his hand injury.
“From what I was told, he had just started doing workouts maybe this past week, but that was just hearsay, so I don’t even know,” Stevens said.
He already has a basketball court named after him
Langford has already achieved more before his 20th birthday than many people do in a lifetime.
In fact, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Romeo Langford Basketball Court at Kevin Hammermsith Memorial Park took place in New Albany in 2018.
Langford is eager to add to his legacy in Boston, where he believes he has a real chance to contribute.
“I know what I’m capable of doing,” Langford told ESPN’s Maria Taylor. “I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
NO. 22 GRANT WILLIAMS
Position: Forward. College: Tennessee
When Stevens spoke about Grant Williams on Thursday, one of the first traits he highlighted was Williams’s intelligence.
Stevens, addressing members of the media at the Auerbach Center, pointed out that the former Tennessee star is “super smart” and “a guy with a point guard’s mind.” Williams, of course, is 6-foot-7, 236 pounds, but Stevens is impressed by his versatility and sharpness on the court.
“We’re looking forward to having him,” Stevens said. “We think he translates well. You couldn’t be more impressed with a kid when you sit down with him.”
Here’s what to know about Williams.
He was named SEC Player of the Year twice
Williams leaves the University of Tennessee as one of the most accomplished players in program history. As the reigning two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, he increased his scoring in each of his three seasons in college.
He was a consensus 2018-19 All-America First Team selection and was also a finalist for the 2018-19 Wooden Award, averaging 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 104 games (101 starts) throughout his three-year career. His 160 blocked shots rank third on Tennessee’s all-time leaderboard.
Williams, 20, is confident his skills will translate to the next level, and he’s drawn comparisons to Houston Rockets wing P.J. Tucker. He attempted 23 free throws in a game against Vanderbilt this past January.
“I’m a guy who, on the offensive end, can initiate the offense, but also be a guy who’s screening, moving the ball efficiently, and knocking down open shots,” he told reporters in a conference call. “I feel like I will fit really well because of the versatility I bring.”
His mother works for NASA
Don’t tell Williams that the world is flat. Not only is he not buying it, but he knows it’s not true.
His mother, Teresa Johnson, is an engineer for NASA in Houston, Texas, and she’s filled him in on some secrets about how the universe works.
“With my mom, I don’t really think of theories,” he told Stadium’s Shams Charania. “I kind of know for sure what’s what. It’s kind of nice to have that mindset.”
He had offers from Ivy League schools
Williams was recruited by Harvard and Yale, among other Ivy League schools, but he turned them down to go to Tennessee.
“Even though I was recruited by the Ivy League … I thought the academics here would be successful with my major (supply chain management),” Williams told the Knoxville News Sentinel at the time. “And the fact that my family could come to games almost every time we played. And I had the opportunity to play for a guy (Rick Barnes) who’s one of the most impactful coaches with his players in America.”
He said all the right things in his first conference call.
Williams told reporters Thursday that he was drafted by the best franchise possible, adding that his grandfather is a huge Celtics fan.
He said he’s eager to learn from Stevens and Ainge. Williams also threw around the right names, including Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, showing that he knows the history of the franchise.
NO. 33 CARSEN EDWARDS
Position: Guard. College: Purdue
Edwards added a new entry to college basketball’s list of all-time great performances when he erupted for 42 points in the Elite Eight this past year against Virginia.
The Boilermakers lost that game, 80-75, in overtime, but Edwards kept them in it with a series of absurdly difficult shots. He finished 14 for 25 from the floor and 10 of 19 from 3-point range, but the eventual champs were ultimately too much.
Edwards’s college career reached its pinnacle in that game, but there’s a lot more to him. Here are some things to know about the Celtics’ 33rd overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.
He’s not as young as many of his fellow draftees
While many players taken attended college for just one year, Edwards, 21, played three seasons at Purdue. In many ways, he got better as he went, averaging 10.3 points as a freshman, 18.5 as a sophomore, and 24.3 as a junior. He peaked at the right moment, tying Stephen Curry for third all-time with five straight 25-plus point games in the NCAA Tournament.
He’s tight with Ron Artest
When Edwards took to Instagram to share that he had been drafted, the former Los Angeles Lakers forward Artest commented “Proud of you my boi” with a goat emoji.
He represented the United States in Egypt
USA Basketball named him to the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup team, which took place in Cairo, Egypt, from July 1-9 that year.
Edwards helped the US to a third-place finish and made sure to see the sights along the way. He even got a camel ride out of the deal.
NO. 51 TREMONT WATERS
Position: Guard. College: LSU
The 21-year-old stands 5-feet-10-inches tall and has a 6-foot-2-inch 1/4 wingspan, according to the NBA rookie combine. He also was measured to have the largest hands (9.75 inches wide) among point guards at the event.
In two seasons at LSU, Waters averaged 15.6 points per game, 2.5 steals per game, and 5.9 assists per game. As a sophomore, he helped LSU reach the regional semifinal of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Here are a couple other parts of his story to know about:
He’s a New Englander
Waters grew up in New Haven, Connecticut.
By 15, he was at the South Kent School (which was also where Isaiah Thomas went), once again playing significant minutes despite being an underclassmen. He dropped 17 points in a tournament game against Brewster Academy, whose roster at the time included Donovan Mitchell.
He finished his high school career at Notre Dame-West Haven as one of the top point guard recruits in the nation. After initially accepting a scholarship to Georgetown, Waters ended up at LSU following the Hoyas’ decision to fire John Thompson III.
He almost went into the draft a year ago
After leading LSU in points and assists as a freshman, Waters was named to the SEC’s All-Freshmen team. He had his sights set on a greater goal: A one-and-done NBA move.
Still, Waters hedged his bet. Though he put his name in for the draft, he didn’t sign with an agent. This left Waters eligible by NCAA rules to return to school if he chose to do so by May 30, 2018.
After working out for several NBA teams, Waters ultimately chose to return to LSU for a second season.
“I feel it’s best to return to LSU this year and continue to improve as a player, teammate and most importantly a young man,” Waters wrote in an Instagram post.
His post-draft comments show he’s aware of the skeptics
Virtually every scouting report about Waters mentions his comparatively small size as a weakness, and it’s certainly a reason why he wasn’t a first round pick. Still, Waters continues to use this as motivation.
“I’ve said this before, I’ve been doubted growing up playing basketball. I’ve always been small. My size isn’t going to change,” Waters told reporters. “I’ve been doubted in middle school. People said I wasn’t going to make it in high school, I’ve been doubted in high school. People said I wasn’t going to make it in college, I was doubted in college. People said I wouldn’t make it in the NBA, and now I’m here.”
He was a prolific defender in college
One of Waters’s strengths is his defense, where he regularly creates turnovers. He won SEC Co-Defender of the Year in 2019, and set a school record with 96 steals. In the regular season, he finished second in steals per-game, averaging 3.03.
Over the course of his LSU career, Waters had eight games in which he produced five or more steals.
“I will tell you that he’s a competitor,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of Waters. “He’s not afraid. He wants to take on challenges.”
His 2017 block on Corey Davis Jr.’s last-second 3-pointer attempt helped LSU seal a win over an eventual tournament team.
He’s never been afraid of the bigger moments
Having grown up consistently playing against kids who were older than him, Waters has been capable of playing at his best in pressure situations.
Early in his career at LSU, he nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Texas A&M:
And in the NCAA Tournament in 2019, it was Waters who hit a last-second layup to beat Maryland and send LSU to the next round: