Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.
By David Cordova
The Big East Conference is a league that has a lot of historical significance to it. One of the most prestigious programs in the conference is Providence. Over the years, they have had a lot of prestigious guards come through the school such as Jimmy Walker, Ernie DiGregorio, God Shammgod, Marshon Brooks and Kris Dunn.
This season, there’s a new guard that looks like he will be next in that long lineage of Friar guards in the future. Enter Makai Ashton-Langford. The 6-foot-3 freshman guard is a player that is a facilitator and also a scoring guard. He is one that makes the Friars engine go when he’s in the game.
The native of Worcester, Massachusetts has been playing the game since the age of six. When asked what the basketball scene is like in the city that is 40 miles west of from Boston and 40 miles away from his new home, Providence, he replied, “The competition was really good, especially growing up when I was younger. I used to always have a couple of players on these other teams that were good. They would strive me to be my greatest, to be better than them and they’re still my friends right now, so shoutouts to them for making me better.”
Ashton-Langford started out his prep years at St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester and then transferred to Cushing Academy, a boarding school that is 45 minutes away from Worcester. As a junior, he averaged 22 points, six assists and four rebounds and led the Penguins to a NEPSAC “AA” championship appearance.
When asked about his time at Cushing, he replied, “It was great. I played with Wabissa Bede from Virginia Tech. The year I was there, he made it easier for me. I got to play off the ball a little bit. So it made my shot a little better, I had tp get my shot right, so it was definitely a good experience with them.”
On the AAU scene, he suited up for the Mass Rivals, a powerhouse on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit. With Ashton-Langford, Bede and Azar Swain, now at Yale, in the backcourt, Mass Rivals went undefeated throughout the summer of 2016, capturing both the Adidas Gauntlet Finale and the Adidas Uprising Championships.
On his experience with Mass Rivals: “Mass Rivals, that team might have been the best team I played with. Mass Rivals was definitely one of the best teams that I played with. Everybody could bring the ball up the court and I ain’t have to stress about anything. And as you could see, we went undefeated through most of July. That had to be one of the most fun years of my high school career.”
Ashton-Langford would then spend his final year of high school at another perennial NEPSAC powerhouse in Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. On a team full of Division I players, Ashton-Langford was one of the key cogs in the Bobcats’ offense, which would lead them to a 33-0 season and the NEPSAC “AAA” championship. He finished his senior year on the NEPSAC AAA Third Team and No. 38 in the ESPN Top 100 Class of 2017.
When asked about his senior year at Brewster, he replied, “Brewster was, that was a really good team. Everybody could score the ball. It made it a lot easier for me, I could throw the ball to somebody knowing that if I don’t get it back, it’ll probably go into the hoop.”
On April 10th of this year, Ashton-Langford made his commitment to the Friars. When asked why he chose Providence and how he likes playing for head coach Ed Cooley, “It’s just a family environment is what really brought me here. Once I came here, everybody welcomed me with open arms. I didn’t know what to expect coming in here, but they definitely showed me that this is a true family environment. And Ed Cooley is a great guy to play for. He knows what he’s doing. He knows where to put you to score the ball and what defenses to play.”
So far, Ashton-Langford is adjusting very well to college basketball, averaging 5.7 points and two assists per game and is part of good backcourt, which includes seniors Kyron Cartwright, Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock and sophomores Maliek White and Drew Edwards. With that crew of guards, the Friars are 5-1 heading into tomorrow’s game against Rider.
In the 2K Classic championship game against St. Louis on November 17th at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Ashton-Langford stood out scoring 11 points and handing out three assists in 19 minutes as Providence ended up winning 90-63.
But then again, it wasn’t his first rodeo playing in the Big Apple. In August 2016, Ashton-Langford played in the Big Strick Classic and had a duel with Isaiah Washington, who is now a freshman at the University of Minnesota. In that game, Ashton-Langford scored 41 points and won the MVP award.
When asked about how he likes playing in New York, he replied, “I love playing in New York, the fans are always crazy, I love it. Back home, the fans are not as crazy as out here. Coming out here, you have to put on a show or they’re going to come at you.”
On his first time playing at the Garden, he replied, “It was great. They [his teammates] gave me the confidence to do what I had to do and it was an amazing environment, the fans gave us a a great spark to keep it going.”
In the present time, Ashton-Langford is looking like one of the best freshmen in the Big East. Although he has a lot of upperclassmen to battle with when it comes to minutes, there’s no doubt that if he continues to do what he’s been doing, there is no doubt that he could potentially be the Big East Freshman of the Year.
But then again, Ashton-Langford has his sights on bigger goals, such as making a deep appearance in the Big East Tournament and making a run at the NCAA Tournament. “I just want to win, I want to make it to March Madness, win the whole thing, Big East, that’s the goal.”
Highlights of Makai Ashton-Langford:
Courtesy of Jerry Davies.
Courtesy of Make Playz.
Courtesy of Brass City Films.
Courtesy of Ballislife.
Courtesy of SportzEdge.
Courtesy of Friarbasketball.