Around his practice and going to class on Thursday, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith basketball star and Razorback signee Sonny Weems will watch plenty of action of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Next season, he intends to be playing in it.
"I can't wait for that - to be a Razorback and to be playing in the Big Dance," Weems said. "It's the biggest stage with the best players. I'll get seen by a lot more people than I am now, but it will be about the same thing I am now and that's winning."
But before Weems (6-6, 200) dons his University of Arkansas jersey, the former West Memphis prep standout still has some business to take care on the junior college level first.
That would be leading the Lions (29-3) to what he hopes is a national title at next week's National Junior College Athletic Association in Hutchinson, Kan., a quest that will begin with a 10 a.m. game next Tuesday against Bronx (N.Y.) Monroe College (31-3).
The school formerly known as Westark earned that right to do so last Sunday when top-seeded UAFS downed Redlands 61-60 in the Region II championship game in Shawnee, Okla.
"It was back and forth the whole way and came down to the very end of the game, but we were just not going to lose this year," said Weems, who hit a big 3-pointer late in the contest. "It felt so good after coming up short last year when we should have one it."
Mark Mangum, Weems' former high school teammate who lead his team to two state titles, hit two free throws to clinch the win with 36.9 seconds left.
"We were supposed to win this game," Weems said, "and we did what we had to do to make sure that happened."
It was the Lions' third win in three days including an opening round win over knocking off Northern Oklahoma College Enid 84-66.
In that game, Weems had 15 points and former Fayetteville junior high star Nolan "Bo" Richardson - grandson of the former UA coach of the same name - had 18 to lead the losing squad.
Weems had a team-high 20 points in a semifinal round win over Northern Oklahoma Colleg-Tonkawa, but almost as importantly held Mountaineers' leading scorer Jordan Geiser scoreless in the first half and to only seven points total in the contest.
(Sonny) can defend. He doesn't just score, but he defends," UAFS head coach Jeremy Cox told the Southwest Times Record after the game. "He did a super job of defending tonight. He's a very complete basketball player. He's not a terrific shooter or maybe the scorer some of these other guys are, but he's a complete basketball player."
Weems, who is averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game this season, is also very excited about how his future team has ended the season and likes their chances in the NCAA Tournament.
The Razorbacks (22-9) take on Bucknell (26-4) Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Dallas' American Airlines Center with the winner to take on the Memphis-ORU winner in a Sunday second round game.
"They've been playing great and it makes me even more excited to get up there next year and help make things happen," Weems said. "I think they are going to surprise some people."
Weems chose Arkansas over Tennessee, Memphis and Oklahoma among others.
"It's been great how people who are Razorback fans have come out and supported our team since I signed with Arkansas," Weems said. "It's helped us have a great year. Now we've just got to to finish it the way we planned when the season started. That's to win a national title. We going to do it."
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