The Christmas holiday break came at a good time for Langston Burnett, a sophomore on the men's basketball team at Division I Wagner on Staten Island in New York.
A graduate of St. Vincent Pallotti High in Laurel, Burnett has had various ailments this season as a reserve 6-foot-5 guard for the Seahawks.
"I have really been looking forward to this break," he said. "I am trying to take care of my injuries and do what I need to do."
Burnett, a resident of Beltsville, had a lower back problem (bulging disc) last fall prior to the season.
After missing early practice time, he has dealt with a sprained ankle and a shoulder problem.
"It has been up and down," Burnett said of his second season at Wagner. "I have been going through a lot of injuries."
"The disc kept me out some of the time," added Burnett, 19. "It is something I have to deal with. It has gotten better to a certain extent."
Burnett got a ride home to Maryland from his mother after practice Dec. 21 and spent the Christmas break with his family before he headed back to school on Dec. 26.
He said the time away from the grind of daily practice would help him get healthier for the second half of the season.
But he also kept in shape by shooting at a recreation center in Largo in Prince George's County and then at a facility in North Laurel.
Burnett came off the bench in seven of the first 12 games for Wagner and averaged 7.3 minutes and one point per contest.
He had four assists and made two of his first 13 shots from the field, including one of nine from three-point range.
The Seahawks open league play Jan. 9 at Central Connecticut, then play their first home league game on Jan. 11 against LIU Brooklyn.
The next Northeast Conference game after that is Jan. 16 at Mount St. Mary's in Frederick County.
In that contest, he will reunite with Will Lyle, a former Pallotti teammate.
Lyle is a sophomore forward for the Mountaineers and has played in three games this season..
Burnett played as a freshman at Pallotti then spent his sophomore year at Paul VI, a Virginia school that plays in the tough Washington Catholic Athletic Association (WCAC).
He returned to Pallotti for his final two years and averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds for former head coach Shae Johnson.
Burnett was a two-time all-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association performer in the B Conference and gained honor roll status as a senior.
He was planning to do a post-graduate year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia, but Wagner became interested in him and he enrolled as a freshman in 2012.
Burnett was recruited by several colleges, including Niagara and St. Bonaventure.
He decided on Wagner, due in part to the coaching staff and the chance to compete for a league title.
Burnett comes from an athletic basketball family.
His older sister, Breaun, played basketball at Northwestern High in Hyattsville and softball and volleyball at Division II Bowie State.
She was at Northwestern at the same time as Jeff Green, who went on to play at Georgetown and currently averages 16.2 points a game for the Boston Celtics.
Wagner won five of its first 12 games this season.
That included a 102-87 win at Coppin State in Baltimore on Nov. 18 when Burnett came off the bench and scored five points in 10 minutes and made two of three field goal attempts.
"I think our strength (as a team) is our competitiveness," said Burnett, who plans to major in psychology. "It goes from the coaches to the players. Once we get everything right I don't think anyone is going to doubt our potential.
The head coach for Wagner is Bashir Mason, a former point guard at Drexel in Philadelphia under veteran mentor Bruiser Flint.
"It is a challenge. He expects a lot from his players," Burnett said. "You still have to earn your way and be tough."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun