Interview with D-League All-Star Keith Langford
by: Richard Walker
February 10, 2008
Recently selected to the 2008 NBADL All-Star Team, Austin Toro Keith Langford is having a career season. Averaging 24.5 points, 6 rebounds and almost 4 assists the knock on his game coming out of college wasnít his scoring ability, but his outside shot. Setting out to prove the naysayers wrong, Keith is shooting well above 40% from three point range this year, and has already received one call-up from the San Antonio Spurs. Today I spoke with Keith about the path that lead him to the D-League and what he has to do in order to get back into the NBA.

Richard Walker: Coming out of Kansas you went undrafted, but were picked up pretty quickly by the Houston Rockets. Can you talk a little bit about what the draft process was like for you?

Keith Langford: It was pretty disappointing when you look at the body of work I put together over the course of four years. Youíre judged by how you went out as opposed to what you established, but at the same time I understood how the process goes. It was definitely a disappointment, especially with the injuries. It was difficult.

Richard Walker: I know you had a lot of interest from NBA teams this last season, but what made you decide to go play in Italy for Vanoli Soresina?

Keith Langford: You see a lot of guys playing in the minor leagues and they get to the point where theyíre 27 or 28 years old and theyíve been minor leaguing around for so long that they havenít built up any financial equity. I didnít want to run into that, and so I figured I was 23 years old and I should just go make six figures for a year and get some money under my belt and that way I can come back and give it a go again.

Richard Walker: What made you decide to play in the NBADL this season?

Keith Langford: A lot of it had to do with this being one of the first years that I was completely healthy. I had a lot of confidence coming from overseas after having a good year there and the pre-season I had with the [San Antonio] Spurs went really well. I got a lot of positive feedback from those guys in regards to being close, and being an NBA-ready player. With that combined with my overseas experience it made sense.

Richard Walker: Is that how you ended up on the [Austin] Toros? Having played with the Spurs in the pre-season?

Keith Langford: Right, exactly. They worked some kind of magic and I ended up being allocated there. I donít know what the connection was, but itís worked out fine.

Richard Walker: How does playing for the Toros compare to playing for the [Fort Worth] Flyers a couple of seasons ago?

Keith Langford: I think the way I ended up with the Toros, and the situation I was in with San Antonio, you just feel like you have much more of a connection. Iím enjoying myself more, and Iím really understanding the game and how things work both on the court and off the court. Iím 24, and the experience factor is coming into play, so Iím really enjoying myself this season.

Richard Walker: Can you tell from a playerís perspective if thereís a tangible difference in having the Spurs own the team?

Keith Langford: Yeah, certain things you donít have to worry about. Small things like meals being paid for on the road or having access to different kinds of treatment. All around management of whatís going on because weíve got Dell Demps Ė thatís the general manager of our team, and director of player personnel with the Spurs Ė so he learns first hand from R.C. [Buford] and those guys and you can tell from his demeanor whatís expected of the team and the players. He runs a really tight ship and there's a lot of expectations that come with that.

Richard Walker: Absolutely. Your team is stacked, theyíre completely loaded, and youíre averaging 25 points per game despite that. Youíve always been a scorer, but this year Iíve noticed that youíve really refined your outside game. Youíre shooting like 43% from behind the arc this season.

Keith Langford: A lot of credit goes to being in camp with the Spurs for that; getting down a routine, consistency shooting the ball, and obviously having the confidence to let it go. I remember when I was waived during the pre-season [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich told me that going to the basket and scoring has never been a problem for me, but when you get to the point when you can just let your outside shot go and not even think about it itís going to make you a lot better player. I definitely took that to heart. I was talking to my agent the other day and we were laughing about the fact that in the last two games Iíve shot fifteen three pointers and in years past, or in college, it might take five or six games to shoot that many. Itís crazy how you mature and see the game differently.

Richard Walker: You talked about how you were in pre-season with the Spurs, and how your outside shot is really improved, youíve never exactly had a problem getting to the basket, youíve always been an elite slasher, and that got you a call-up earlier in the season. What was it like to play with the Spurs officially?

Keith Langford: There was a lot of familiarity, obviously because of the pre-season, but it was different Ė it was more of a reality. Everything was run the same as it was in the pre-season, guys still carried themselves very professionally, and it was a really relaxed environment. I made the transition, fit right in, did what I was supposed to, and played my role for the time that I was up there. I understood the situation and it was a very fortunate opportunity for me.

Richard Walker: As one of the premiere players in the D-League you were selected to the [NBADL] All-Star team this year. How does that feel?

Keith Langford: It feels good. I think that it shows how far the league has come from when it started out. You see it grow, and I feel like guys like Chris Alpert and president Dan Reed really do a lot to help out the guys in the D-League and try and get them to the next level, and I think this is just another step in the right direction. Any time you can reward the guys who are playing well and give them exposure itís a win.

Richard Walker: Are you looking forward to going to New Orleans?

Keith Langford: Iím really looking forward to seeing a lot of the NBA stuff in addition to the stuff Iím doing. Iím taking a very serious approach towards it. I was wondering how I should treat the game. Should I treat it like the actual NBA All-Star game or should guys be playing like a call-up is on the line?

Richard Walker: Thatís a great question actually.

Keith Langford: Weíll get a feel for it once we get there and do the meetings, walk-throughs and shoot-arounds.

Richard Walker: I had never really thought of that before. In a way, a call-up is on the line, but on the other hand it is an All-Star game and youíre supposed to be having fun and entertaining the crowd.

Keith Langford: Exactly. And it probably doesnít help me that I have probably four of the top scorers in the league on my team. Itíll be interesting. Maybe theyíll let our team play with two balls.

Richard Walker: Do you get feedback from the NBA personnel on what theyíre looking for to bring you back to the NBA permanently?

Keith Langford: Not necessarily. You definitely hear teams say, ďweíre taking note of how much Keith has improvedĒ and things like that, but teams really donít like to show their hand when it comes to call-ups, and what exactly the roster moves are going to be, so thatís the agentís job to get that information from the different teams. Iíve gotten feedback on how well Iíve been playing, but not necessarily on roster moves and things like that. The trade deadline is coming up, teams are making moves, and itís getting later in the season.

Richard Walker: Yeah, teams usually leave roster spots open for the trade deadline because they donít know what their team is going to look like, so after the deadline is when youíll start to see some call-ups.

Keith Langford: Yeah, itís tough though because you have crazy money being thrown at you overseas. Just today I got an offer from over in Spain for six figures just to finish the season out. Iím just like, ďwow, thatís only a third of the seasonĒ, so itís difficult. Really difficult.

Richard Walker: Thatís got to always be in the back of your mind. Thereís always money overseas and itís got to be tough to stick it out here. Is it the NBA dream thatís on the line? Is that why youíre here?

Keith Langford: Yeah, thatís true, but the funny thing about it is that I can take this job over in Spain that I was just offered and end up making more than I would be making by finishing out the season on an NBA roster. But for me money has never really been a crazy issue, and itís just about being able to do something that not everyone else does. I want to have the job that no one else has. You know, I could go overseas and make a significant amount of money, but itís not quite like being in the NBA. If I play for a year, and even it doesnít work out, then I would have known that I was able to get there and stick around and I would have a new perspective.

Richard Walker: Where do you see yourself fitting in on an NBA team?

Keith Langford: I wouldnít say Iím a jack-of-all-trades, but Iíve always been a player thatís done well playing a lot of minutes and being involved in whatís going on, and I think teams might having difficulty with that saying, ďwell can he come off the bench and be a spark for six or seven minutesĒ. In order for me to stick in the NBA it will probably take an injury situation where I would come in like C.J. Watson. When he first got called up he played in a game for thirty or more minutes. Something like that. After I establish somewhat of a role then I can do whatever is asked. Mark Warkentien, from the [Denver] Nuggets, asked me when I worked out for them this year how do I see myself complimenting the team, and I said that I watch a lot of basketball and I watch DeShawn Stevenson and the way he compliments the [Washington] Wizards and I think thatís a realistic way for me to compliment the guys on the team. I can be that type of player. Not to say that Iím better than him, or I can do what he does, but Iím saying that what he is to that team is a realistic way for me to be to another franchise.

Richard Walker: Absolutely, I believe the same thing.

Keith Langford: Iíve always felt like Iím one of those guys who continuously slips through the cracks. They think, ďsomebody else might pick him upĒ, or, ďheís good enough, but maybe thereís something thatís just a little bit betterĒ. I just think that if I ever get the opportunity people will definitely take notice. I told [head] coach [Bill] Self when I was at Kansas that I thought I would be a better pro than I was a college player. I have the confidence, but I also have a realistic grasp on what the NBA is and how tough it is. Iím happy about how my career has gone, fighting through the injuries and adversities, I wouldnít change anything.

Richard Walker: Great, thanks a lot Keith.

Keith Langford: No problem.

Richard Walker: Good luck.

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Keith Langford
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 203 lbs.
Birthday: 09/15/1983
33 Years Old
High School: North Crowley
Previous Team: UNICS , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Current: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
19.4 Pts, 2.7 Rebs, 3.4 Asts

Dell Demps
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 205 lbs.
Birthday: 02/12/1970
47 Years Old
High School: Mt. Eden
Previous Team: Pacific , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Current: G,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
11.6 Pts, 3.0 Rebs, 1.3 Asts

Deshawn Stevenson
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 210 lbs.
Birthday: 04/03/1981
35 Years Old
High School: Washington Union
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #23 in 2000 Draft
by the Jazz
Current: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
5.1 Pts, 2.2 Rebs, 0.9 Asts