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BASKETBALL: Langston Adams Jr., 11, uses mind to take game across country

The visible half-court just off Texas Highway 73 is unmistakably purple and gold.

Langston Adams Jr. has drawn the attention of a number of national camps. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 7-1-19

For Langston Adams Sr., it’s homage to a school that dominated prep basketball in the state over a 15-year span. For Langston Adams Jr., it’s his laboratory.

The purple and gold court in west Port Arthur is where Langston Jr., 11, hones his craft, like many basketball aficionados his age. He probably takes it more seriously than his cohorts, yet so many 11-year-olds have visions of being great at what they do.

“I just practiced a lot,” the youngster said. “I’m always working on my craft, getting better, doing whatever I can to get better, you know?”

Langston Adams Jr. has drawn the attention of a number of national camps. (I.C. Murrell/The News) 7-1-19

That’s simple enough for anyone to understand. But for an 11-year-old, Langston Jr. verbally breaks down the game in a way likely not taught to many high schoolers.

It begins with ball handling.

“That’s at least 45 percent of the game right there,” he said. “And then once I do that, I work on something I’m not as good at, which is getting to the basket and finishing, so I work on that as much as I do ball handling.”

One question is burning much more: Just how does someone Langston Jr.’s age figure ball handling to be almost half of the basketball game?

“Because 50 percent of the game is offense, and 50 percent of the game is defense,” he explained. “So, as long as you can handle the ball — if you can’t handle the ball, it would be pretty hard for you to get off your own shot. The 50 percent is mainly offense right there. So, if you’re able to dribble the ball and create your own shot, you just completed 50 percent of the game. The other 50 percent of the game is defense.”

Yes, give Langston Sr., a Port Arthur lawyer, credit for sharing that tidbit.

A 1992 Lincoln High School graduate, Adams Sr. spends time talking about the game with his son, everything from the history and the present to the nuances that separate elite players from average.

“I think Langston is well advanced intellectually and mentally beyond his age,” the father said. “I think he’s become a student of the game, and not only is he a student of the game, he’s very passionate about the game, so we can sit back and talk in terms of not only goals but how to achieve those particular goals. That type of information is something I thought he can handle.”

The elder Adams has experienced basketball glory. As a junior, he played on Lincoln’s 4A state championship team, the sixth of seven UIL championships for the Port Arthur high school that merged with Thomas Jefferson and Stephen F. Austin to form Memorial in 2002.

“He was the one who really got me into the game,” Langston Jr. said. “You know, I wanted to follow in his footsteps, be the one to follow in our family’s legacy because we have a whole bunch of great basketball players in our family.”

His paternal grandfather, Levi Adams, played basketball and tennis at Lincoln and will go into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Hall of Fame for tennis later this month. He earned scholarships for both sports to Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University.

Levi Adams’ brother-in-law, Allen Isles, was a member of Lincoln’s 1956 PVIL state championship team.

Langston Jr., who’s going to the sixth grade at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Beaumont, plays on an AAU team along with Joshua Coleman, known as H-Town’s Finest. Joshua is the son of Humble Summer Creek head coach Kenneth Coleman, who led Memorial to Port Arthur’s most recent state championship in 2018, ending a 23-year wait for the city.

“It’s nice. He’s a good kid, great player, and we both learn from each other,” Langston Jr. said. “He picks up some of the stuff I do. I pick up some of the stuff I do from him. It’s like one big cycle.”

Directors of elite camps across the U.S. have caught the attention of Langston Jr.’s game. He earned invitations to and attended the John Lucas Rising Stars Challenge in Houston and the NEO Youth Elite Camp in Cleveland, Ohio. Next up is a trip to the Beyond Basketball Junior All-American Camp in Atlanta in August.

According to an Instagram post, Beyond Basketball told Langston Jr. his “on court performance on the circuit and throughout the country have led [him] to be selected.”

Langston Adams Sr. and Langston Adams Jr. pose with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Courtesy photo)

The camps don’t stop there. Langston Jr. recently attended an open camp at NCAA power Duke University, even getting to pose with Hall of Fame Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski for a few photos.

While on Tobacco Road, both Adams Sr. and Jr. stopped by the University of North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center and ran into Kenny Smith Jr., son of the Tar Heels great and current NBA on TNT studio analyst.

“He wants to play in college for sure,” Langston Sr. said, his son listing Duke, Texas and LSU as his college teams of interest. “If the opportunity opens up, he might go pro [out of high school], but he’s realistic and knows the odds are stacked against him.”

Sure, Langston Jr. likes to hang with friends and play video games, just like a typical 11-year-old. His love for basketball is a little bigger, though.

Just as he breaks down his game from dribbling to shooting, his training schedule — usually fit for a prep star and older — stays pretty consistent as well.

“For me, it’s just wake up — back there, I have some workout equipment where I work out a little bit,” Langston Jr. said, pointing to an area near the living room, “then I go to Parisi, it’s a speed school [in Nederland and Beaumont], then I come back and go on my own court a little bit, come back, take a shower. Once I do that, we have to go to Kumon [a learning center], and that’s on Mondays and Wednesdays, come back, go on my court a little bit more, get back in time to eat, take a shower and go to bed.”

Langston Jr. may be at least eight years (or seven if the NBA reduces the minimum entry age to 18 by 2022) away from the league, but his basketball knowledge is already years ahead.

He knows how he got to that point.

“I’m always working hard,” he said. “I’m always working on myself and getting better, perfecting the little things. When it comes time for games, I just ball out and perform, you know?”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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