Makai Ashton-Langford has announced that he will be transferring from Providence College, just a day after Luwane Pipkins announced on his Twitter account that he will be transferring to Friartown.
With the backcourt now seemingly overcrowded by the likes of Pipkins and returning guards David Duke and Maliek White, Makai has decided to pursue other opportunities with another collegiate program.
MAL posted a very heartfelt and well-put statement out on Twitter announcing hid decision to transfer.
— makai ashton (@makaiashton11) March 25, 2019
After transferring, Makai will have two years of eligibility left. Per conference rules, he will not be able to transfer to another Big East school.
Ashton-Langford originally joined the Friars as a Top-50 recruit after de-committing from UConn when the Huskies let go of assistant coach and top recruiter Glen Miller. With being such a highly touted recruit, there comes a lot of pressure and expectations and pressure to immediately preform on the court. Unfortunately, that’s usually not how it works for incoming Freshman during their first season playing College ball. There are maybe 15 or so Freshman basketball players who play at that elite level during their first year.
MAL was never able to find any consistency with his play over his two years with the Friars.
His Freshman year he averaged 13.1 minutes per game, finishing the season averaging 4.2 ppg, 1.7 apg, & 1.7 spg. After the super Senior class of Bullock, Cartwright, and Lindsey (and Planek) graduated and A.J. Reeves and David Duke came on board, MAL saw his time on the floor go up to 17.2 minutes per game, but still only averaged 3.7 ppg, 2.3 apg, and 1.7 rpg in his second year.
Although Makai showed glimpses of very good play, he never quite found the consistency in his game that would have propelled him over the other guard options on the team and cement himself as the true lead guard for Providence. Ironically enough, neither did any of the options, and so the point guard carousel continued throughout the season. MAL struggled mightily with his shot in all phases of the game through both his Freshman and Sophomore seasons, ultimately having some pretty poor shooting numbers with 37.9% FG / 12.0% 3-PT FG / 52.4% FT in Year 1 and 34.6% FG / 30.8% 3-PT FG / 65.2% FT in Year 2.
Ed Cooley and his staff have made it a calling card of theirs to have lead point guards who can distribute the rock at an extremely high level. Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, Kris Dunn, and Kyron Cartwright all lead the Big East in assists at one point during their tenures as Friars. With Ashton-Langford not being able to find his shooting stroke regularly, one would assume that his assist number would go up as he tried to find other guys to take on some of that offensive load. The problem there was two-fold. One, apparently without A.J. Reeves, no one on the Friars team could shoot the rock from deep and two, Ashton-Langford had a propensity to be a little loose with the ball. Over his two seasons, MAL had a 1.29:1 assist to turnover ratio.
I think some of that can be attributed to Coach Cooley’s style of play and MAL’s style of play not really meshing together. I think that Makai would be able to thrive in a more open type of offense that centers around pushing the ball and drive-and-kicks to shooters. I am a believer in Makai’s talent but I think that the fit was never quite right, whether it by the offensive style or the uncertain rotations that Cooley used during the season that never let Ashton-Langford settle into a known role.
There are some definite parts of MAL’s game that I was a genuine fan of.
- Makai always gave it 100% effort whenever he was in the game and I believe that showed on defense, especially in his defensive growth from his Freshman to Sophomore season. Defense is all about effort.
- His ability to position himself well on defense and take a charge was second to no one on this team. That shows his basketball IQ.
- From all accounts, he’s a great teammate. You would think something like that would be a given for players, but it’s not. Especially coming in as a highly ranked recruit and struggling to earn minutes early on, you never heard about Makai ever making anything about himself. He was a team-first guy.
- I think he had the most hairstyle changes in such a short period of time with the team. From headbands, to dreads, to a couple of others that I’m not cool enough to know the names of (there’s names for all kinds of haircuts, right?), he surely went above and beyond in that department.
- Makai has the ability to finish extraordinarily well at the rim, with both hands, at about most any angle.
I have heard rumblings that Makai may want to try and play with his brother DeMarr at the same school. DeMarr is a 4-star recruit in the 2020 class and has some high level offers including West Virginia, UConn, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, and Pittsburgh. At first, I was going to say that I could see Makai joining his brother and heading to UConn but Dan Hurley has two Top-100 guards coming next season that would be Sophomores by the time Ashton-Langford would be eligible to play. I feel like that might work out much like the same situation he found himself in at Providence, with a crowded backcourt. I would look around the AAC because there are a few teams that I think MAL could make better, especially with all the extra work he would be able to put in during the year he has to sit out due to transferring.
I wish nothing but the best for the kid wherever he ends up and will be following his career and rooting for him wherever he decides to finish out his college career. Also, for everyone that is overly concerned about where a teenager plays college basketball and how it affects you, just remember how hard of a decision it is for a young kid to make, especially when things didn’t go quite as he had initially dreamed they would.
One of my guys had to make a difficult decision and he did. Now, right now he feels in a dark dark place. But through darkness you will find your light. Darkness reminds us that WE are the light. Shine bright young man.
— Tom Nelson (@NEBallAcademy) March 26, 2019
Time to turn one dream into another. Once A Friar, Always A Friar. Good Luck MAL.