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March Madness heroes Ryan Langborg ’23 and Keeshawn Kellman ’23 take on a fifth year

Four men embrace on the bench of a basketball game with background characters clapping.
Langborg and Kellman embrace with fellow teammates following the loss to Creighton
Courtesy of @MattAllocco/Instagram

The Class of 2023 is one of the most memorable classes in Princeton men’s basketball history. Highlighted by Tosan Evbuomwan ’23, Ryan Langborg ’23, and Keeshawn Kellman ’23 — who led the Tigers to their first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in the expanded tournament era — last year’s seniors are truly unforgettable.

Evbuomwan made his NBA debut last week and just signed his second 10-day contract with the Detroit Pistons on Feb. 13, following an earlier contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Langborg and Kellman, however, are still enjoying college basketball. Langborg is the starting shooting guard for the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats, while Kellman, down south, is the starting center for Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). The Daily Princetonian interviewed Langborg and Kelleman on their experiences at Northwestern and FGCU and how their historic March Madness run created bonds among their teammates that persist to this day.


Both players were key in Princeton’s historic run last year. In three NCAA tournament games, Langborg averaged 18.7 points while shooting 48.9 percent from the field. In his final game with the Tigers, Langborg scored a career-high 26 points on 4–7 shooting from beyond the arc in a loss to Creighton during the Sweet Sixteen round. 

Kellman too played a key role in all three games, shooting a staggering 83 percent from the field and matching up against the best bigs from each opposing team on defense. 

Enjoying and adapting to fifth-year basketball

For Langborg, his experience at Northwestern has been nothing short of amazing. 

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” Langborg told the ‘Prince.’ “Playing against these top teams twice a week … It’s grueling, but it’s fun. You always want to compete against the best.”

He added — “A lot of the guys are very similar character-wise to the guys at Princeton, so I gelled really quickly with them, and it’s been a really fun year.”

A player in a purple jersey attemtping a pull up jumpshot over a player in a white jersey.
Langborg has played and started in every game for the Wildcats, notably shooting about 40% from three. 
Picture Courtesy of Ryan Langborg

Similarly, for Kellman, his move to Fort Myers, Fla. has paid off. 

“I feel like I’ve had a good experience here,” Kellman told the ‘Prince.’ “I’ve adjusted pretty well, and I’m enjoying [it].”

When asked about his favorite thing at FGCU, he replied, “Having the coaching staff who pushes me every day, and being able to grow as a person.” His growth has certainly been apparent. Kellman has the fifth-highest field goal percentage in the country at 68.3 percent.

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Langborg emphasized how the philosophy and lessons given by Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 still apply to him as a player. He emphasized he will always remember Henderson stressing to the team to “play with joy.”

“Everyone plays at their best when they’re not thinking and just playing the game and enjoying it with each other,” Langborg explained. “It’s about enjoying what you’re doing. At the end of the day, basketball is a game, so you gotta have fun with it.”

Being a graduate student at Northwestern has put Langborg in a leadership role amongst his teammates. Unlike at Princeton, where almost all players spend four years with the program, teams like Northwestern see many more players come and go. 

“It’s important to be there for the younger guys,” Langborg explained. “College is a very different experience so having been through that process at Princeton … it’s important that I’m there by their [underclass students’] side to help them through this process.”

Some things never change: perennial underdogs

Langborg and Kellman’s time with the Tigers was known for upsets against Arizona and Missouri, and this season, the upsets have continued for both players.

On Dec. 1, the Wildcats played host to the then No.1 ranked Purdue Boilermakers. After a grueling overtime contest, the Wildcats beat the Boilermakers 92–88. The student section quickly rushed the court to celebrate with the players. Langborg was key in that contest, scoring 20 points and playing a staggering 42 minutes.

“That was a really cool experience, and it was very similar in a lot of ways to the March Madness games. I’ve never been part of a full-court storm before, which is cool,” Langborg told the ‘Prince.’ “Me and a few other guys played over 40 minutes … it was just crazy all around. Being able to win that battle was impressive for us.”

When speaking about the upset over Purdue, Langborg reflected on the historic run with the Tigers during his senior year. 

“I think it’s more expected for us to win or come close to beating Purdue than it was for us making that Cinderella run,” Langborg explained, since Purdue is a league opponent in the Big Ten. “I think that’s what makes what we accomplished last year so special. That really was a special group.”

For Kellman, the upset of the season came when FGCU beat the then No. 7 ranked Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls on Dec. 30. FAU made the Final Four of last year’s NCAA tournament and returned most of their squad this season. The Eagles were +17.5 underdogs but overcame the Owls 72–68. Kellman started in that contest. 

“The FAU win is definitely up there with the Missouri and Arizona wins of March Madness and some of the biggest wins of my career,” Kellman reflected. “It always feels good knocking off a big team when you’re an underdog. It was probably one of the most exciting games and atmospheres I was a part of — the place was packed.”

Program parallels: beyond the Ivy League

Both Langborg and Kellman noted the similarities and differences between Princeton and their current programs. 

“One thing that is stressed more than anything at Northwestern is defense,” Langborg told the ‘Prince.’ “We have practices where we don’t touch the ball. We never really had that type of practice at Princeton. Offense is almost generated from defense here, which is a little bit different from Princeton.”

However, Langborg also noted many similarities, including off-ball movements. He noted that the actions on offense are very similar, which has made the transition to Northwestern almost “seamless.”

For Kellman, he emphasized the similarities between the team cultures at both Princeton and FGCU.

“One of the biggest similarities is having a tight-knit unit between the coaching staff and players,” Kellman explained. “Just being able to hang out with the coaches and being cool with the coaches and not having a hierarchy.” He went on to explain how he had a similar experience with Henderson and the coaching staff at Princeton. 

The similarities between the two former Tiger stars continue — Langborg is completing a one-year master’s program in sports administration, while Kellman is completing a master’s program in entrepreneurship.

Looking ahead to playing pro

“I want to play pro,” Kellman told the ‘Prince.’ “But focusing on this season is key, and trying to win games and then letting everything work itself out comes first.”

Langborg said, similarly, “There’s a possibility of a pro route, otherwise, I’d probably be going into finance with my economics background. Whatever sector it is, I’ve worked in wealth management and commercial real estate. That’s probably something I’ll figure out after the season.”

Langborg notably went viral during the Tiger’s NCAA tournament run for his LinkedIn page, which featured his outstanding resume.

Bonds on and off the court — Tigers forever

Despite following separate paths following graduation in May of 2023, the Class of 2023 still keeps in touch. Outside of the big three, Jacob O’Connell ’23 is doing his graduate year at Division I Merrimack University in Mass., and Konrad Kiszka ’23 is playing close to Princeton for the Division III New York University. 

“We have a group chat we were just talking in yesterday.” Langborg told the ‘Prince.’ “We still stay in touch all the time. We talk all the time. We’re watching each other’s games and the Princeton games. We have group chats active from every year at Princeton.”

He went on to mention that guys like “Jaelin [Llewellyn ’22] and Colby Kyle [’22], we’re all still so tight. We talk almost every week.” Langborg and Llewellyn will face off in a huge Big Ten matchup on Feb. 22 at Northwestern. 

Kellman reiterated much of what Langborg said.

“Absolutely,” Kellman replied when asked if he still keeps in touch with his former teammates. “To this day, we talk in group chats at least a few times a week. And this goes back to old group chats with Jaelin and Max [Jones ’22].”

Back in March 2023, after the Tigers fell short in the Sweet 16 against the Bluejays, Henderson said, “These guys have done something that no one has ever done … I know that there [were] some really great Princeton teams in the past, but this is a really, really special team.”

Though their lives may diverge, for Langborg, Kellman, and the rest of the Class of 2023, the Princeton basketball family will never stray too far. United by tragic losses, upset wins, and a whole host of internet memes, there should be no doubt that the group will keep in touch.

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

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