Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

James Lang Makes His Mark

June 17, 2003 Columns No Comments

Chicago Pre-Draft Camp – Lang Makes His Mark

by Jed Tai

CHICAGO – James Lang from Central Park Christian High School in Birmingham, Alabama was the only high school player who participated in the Chicago Pre-Draft camp at Moody Bible Institute.

Due to an archaic NCAA rule regarding high school players testing out themselves for a professional sport, many of the other prep players who were invited to participate in the pre-draft camp decided instead to schedule their own workouts (Ndudi Ebi, Charlie Villanueva) or stay at home (Kendrick Perkins, Travis Outlaw). But Lang – who fully committed himself to the draft by signing with an agent – decided to prove himself to the talent evaluators on hand in Chicago.

So for three and a half days, Lang went through the drills, competed in three games, and went through all the physical testing and measurements. How did the prep star feel about his performance in the week-long session?

“Pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been running up and down the floor really good, keeping my head in the game and hustling hard.”

Observers at the camp pretty much agreed.

“I think he’s been fairly impressive,” said Chris Monter, renowned draft expert and publisher of the Monter Draft News. “He’s run the floor very well. He’s a little undersized as a center (Lang measured in at 6-foot-9 1/2 without shoes) but he has very long arms and a 7-6 wingspan that allows him to play a little bit bigger. I think he’s really helped himself.”

Over three days, Lang averaged 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds, shooting 10-for-16 from the field. While he was effective in converting shots down low, it was his ability to convert from a further distance that made an impression on those in attendance.

“I was a little surprised he made 11 for 12 from the free throw line,” said Chris Ekstrand, editor of the NBA Draft Guide and one of the NBA officials who runs the pre-draft camp. “There are very few big men who can go to the line and do that.”

Lang competed well in the field of big men at camp, often going against players who four to five years older than him. How competitive was it with the other players out on the court?

“It’s kind of tough,” said Lang. “But only if it gets to you. I just need to play my game and dominate like I’m supposed to, so I don’t worry about anybody else.”

“But I know I still have to work on a lot of things.”

One thing may have to be his work on defensive end of the floor. Lang finished with one of the higher foul totals in camp, and nearly fouled out of every game.

“Defensively he was totally lost,” said Ekstrand. “He tended to play defense with his hands. His man would get the ball in the post and (Lang) would have two hands on his back and he got fouls called on him. That might be a little thing, but that shows you how far away he is at this point.”

While things like that he has some ways to go, Lang did come a long way in terms of his weight – which was a concern coming into the camp. The last time he was in Chicago, for the EA Sports Roundball Classic, Lang looked extremely overweight and out of shape. However, at the outset of camp, he arrived looking svelte and trim (based on his standards). In his official weigh-in, he measured out to “only” 316 pounds. What was Lang’s secret to weight loss?

“Running a lot, drinking a lot of water, and eating the right food,” he said.

While Ekstrand acknowledges that the loss of reportedly more than 40 pounds is impressive and noteworthy, he does give this warning.

“You have to wonder if the weight will stay off,” said Ekstrand. “It’s one thing to get in shape for a draft camp. It’s another thing to keep it off for an entire career.”

But that issue aside, Lang did prove many doubters wrong at the camp, and has improved his stock in the eyes of NBA scouts.

“I think he’s moved himself up definitely to a late first round, early second round (pick),” said Monter. “A lot will depend on his workouts leading up to the draft, but I think he’s definitely helped his stock quite a bit.”

Lang has already gotten started with those workouts, and has a few more to come after camp.

“I worked out with the (Los Angeles) Lakers before I came here,” said Lang. “After this, I’ve got the New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat.”

Lang wasn’t always dead-set on the NBA, and had considered college for quite a while. For those who were wondering where Lang would have gone to school had he decided to go to school, he had a quick reply when asked.

“Louisville,” he said.

But the NBA is the route that Lang chose to take (a “dream of mine since middle school,” he said) and he went a long way towards making that happen with his performance in Chicago.

“I think he’s definitely held his own,” said Monter. “I think he was one of the Top 10 to 15 players here.”


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2018

March 20, 2018 by

We discuss the wild early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, joined by special guest Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal for one segment. In addition, we touch on coaching news and other issues surrounding the college game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.