Langston and fellow Brooklynite David Warren said they were recruited by SWC associate coach Kyle Colwell following a summer league high school game where their teams faced each other. Both moved to San Diego County hoping to catch the eye of a Division I university program. Their seasons ended early and in controversy, however, when they were declared academically ineligible. They played eight games in January and February after they had stopped attending classes. Southwestern had to forfeit four wins after the college notified Pacific Coast Conference league officials.
Langston said Colwell kept constant contact after approaching him following a high school game, calling him a “perfect fit” for the team and guaranteed him a starter position. He said the lure of California and the coach’s constant attention led to his decision to move, despite his father’s objections. Keenan Langston Sr. said his son already had his mind made up.
“He applied for different colleges, but he wanted to go to a school that wanted him,” he said. “He talked to the coaches at Southwestern and the coach wanted him to come out there. He was really excited about that and I let him get his wish.”
When Langston first started practicing with his new teammates, he noticed their talent, but said they lacked chemistry. Langston said with better chemistry the team would have played much better and made the playoffs.
He said he and Warren felt horrible that their academic status caused the team to forfeit games. He said he hopes to bounce back because basketball is more than just a sport.
“I want basketball to make a better life for me,” he said. “My talent is basketball and it can take me places and make a better life for me and my family. It’s a game, but it’s also a lifestyle and without it I’m not really inspired to do anything.”
Suburban Chula Vista seemed like another planet from Brooklyn. Langston was born in New Jersey and moved to Brooklyn at the age of five. Living in the dangerous Farragut projects he got used to hearing gunshots and witnessing daily drug use.
“There’s usually fighting and gunshots going on,” he said. “It’s not a good environment. San Diego is so peaceful and quiet. You can hear the hummingbirds out there. I had to adapt to the California lifestyle.”
Even though he did not get mixed up with drugs, Langston said he watched his parents battle drug abuse.
“It was tough not always getting what I wanted because of their habits,” he said. “I would cry all the time. Nobody wants to see their parents on drugs. I saw what drugs can do to you and I didn’t want that.”
Langston said he received lots of care from his grandmother when he was a boy. His father took legal custody of him in 1998 due to drug-related problems with his mother. Langston Sr. did not have many problems keeping his son away from drugs.
“He grew up in the projects,” he said. “There’s a lot of violence, people shooting guns, drugs, everything. It wasn’t too hard because he was really focused on basketball. He knew that drugs aren’t for athletes.”
Langston’s best game in his freshman season at SWC was against Mira Costa college where he scored 25 points. It was a sign of the leader and athlete he hopes to be for the team. After the victory, the whole team went out to eat for the first time as a unit in what would be his most memorable moment of Southwestern College.
“It was just a fun time to bond because that was really the first time the whole team went out and talked as a unit,” he said. “Being around them outside of basketball, you have a chance to have a whole conversation with them and learn about them. It makes you want to play with them. Like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, they hang out outside of basketball and on the court they know where to find each other all the time.”
Langston said it takes more than talent to compete in basketball. He said a player should have heart, will and desire for the game.
“There’s a lot of people out there with talent, but if they don’t work hard, it doesn’t amount to anything,” he said. “The people that work hard and want it are the people who go out there and win. You can work on skill, shooting, dribbling, anything. Anybody can work and get better at that. But desire, heart and will? That’s something that’s inside of you that you have.”
Former teammate David Warren, who also said he was recruited from Brooklyn by Colwell, praised Langston’s work ethic. Langston goes to the gym at least two times a day trying to get stronger for the game, said Warren.
“We work out all the time trying to get better,” said Warren. “If you are really determined about a sport, then that sport is going to motivate you to do better in school because you want to play.”
Langston and Warren were both dropped from classes due to out-of-state tuition and not showing up to class, respectively. Towards the end of the season, Langston and Warren returned to Brooklyn. They both talked about how much they miss being in California. Even though Warren has made up his mind not to come back, Langston was not sure whether or not he would at first, but after arriving in Brooklyn, he decided he missed Southwestern and would like to return next season. He will have to take online courses during the summer to make up for the classes he was dropped from if he plans to participate next season. If not, he would have to red-shirt, meaning he would have to sit out the season due to the lack of units.
Overcoming all the obstacles is only the beginning.
“Nothing is impossible,” he said. “You can do anything if you put your mind to it no matter where you grow up, no matter how your situation is. Stick with what you want to do.”