Next up on our player previews is grad transfer Ryan Langborg, who enters Evanston with the chance to contribute immediately for the Wildcats after a stellar career with Princeton.
Who he is
Graduate student; 6-foot-4; from San Diego, California; Princeton transfer
2022-2023 stats (at Princeton)
32 games (32 starts), 31.3 minutes per game, 12.7 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game, 0.6 blocks per game, 0.8 steals per game, 42.3% FG, 33.2% 3P, 82.3% FT
Last season for the Tigers, Langborg produced one of his most impressive seasons, helping to lead Princeton to a magical Sweet Sixteen run. During the regular season, Langborg was Princeton’s second-leading scorer as he played a career-high in minutes. Langborg also produced career bests in blocks and free throw attempts. While his efficiency dropped off slightly, his overall shooting splits remained solid.
Some might gripe that playing in the Ivy League leads to a lower level of competition, but Langborg was at his best when the lights were brightest. After a lackluster opening round against Arizona in the NCAA Tournament, Langborg found his rhythm in the Round of 32 to the tune of 22 points, six rebounds and four assists against Mizzou. This explosion was no one-off, though: in the Sweet Sixteen, Langborg scored 26 points on 64.7% shooting as the Tigers were ultimately bounced by Creighton.
Langborg’s greatest asset is his range. The grad transfer is a bonafide deep threat who can thrive both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. Princeton was able to get Langborg open looks off screens, and his range extends several feet past the three-point line. Even if his percentage was slightly lower a season ago, his 40.5% three-point clips in 2021-22 shows why Langborg could be one of the most efficient long-ball shooters in all of the Big Ten.
Langborg is effective both on and off the ball, and is a pretty active mover offensively. His veteran savvy shows up a handful of times each games. He won’t blow you away in any one category, but Langborg often makes contributions across the box score: he is a willing rebounder, solid passer and high-effort defender who will often corral a steal or block.
Langborg also has a ton of experiences after three years of Ivy League play. On top of that, he has deeper NCAA Tournament experience than any other player on Northwestern’s roster. With the loss of Chase Audige, Langborg is the type of player who will be needed for his ability to get a bucket, both from long range and via drives to the basket.
If I ended the strengths section by comparing Langborg’s bucket-getting ability to Audige, it would be unfair to not mention that Langborg is not the same type of player as Audige, nor should he be expected to be. It shouldn’t come as much of surprise to state that Langborg is not the same defensive presence as last year’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Langborg has adequate size and is a scrappy defender, but he can look out of place against bigger guards.
Overall, Langborg is a very good free throw shooter, making his attempts at a career rate of 82.1%. Dig a little deeper, and an odd quirk is exposed. Last season, Langborg was a near-automatic 92.7% from the stripe in home games. But on the road, that number plummets to 69.4%. His numbers from 2021-22 also show a significant drop in this home-away split (87.0% to 72.2%). In a Big Ten conference that features some of the most hostile arenas in all of college basketball, Langborg’s road woes are worth keeping an eye on, even if it’s a niche stat.
Langborg should be in the rotation right away. There’s a chance he could be in the starting lineup if Chris Collins opts for a small lineup of Buie-Langborg-Berry-Barnhizer-Nicholson. I think more likely, we see Langborg as one of the first off the bench. Either way, Langborg will get playing time early and often.
Northwestern will count on Langborg for his scoring prowess, especially from deep. Is there a chance Langborg finishes the season as NU’s second-leading scorer behind only Buie? I’d say it’s unlikely, but there is a nonzero chance. He immediately becomes a premier deep threat for a Northwestern team that finished 12th in the conference in both three-point percentage and total scoring and dead last in overall field goal percentage.
It’s safe to expect a few heat check games from Langborg where he finds fire and puts up scoring outputs in the high-teens or twenties. With both Langborg and the Northwestern team having gotten a taste of March Madness a year ago, there will be ample motivation to return to postseason play while the team’s window remains open.