“He does so many things well – that’s what makes him such a special player. He can impact a game without scoring a point. He loves to defend, he blocks shots, he’s a great passer, he has great ball skills, he can step out and shoot a 3-point shot. Teams scout and try to take him away, but if they take him away, he has the ability to make those around him a lot better.”
Praise doesn’t get much higher for a recruit. Those words take on even greater meaning when they come from a recruit’s coach.
That quote came from New Haven (MI) High School Head Basketball Coach, Tedaro France, referring to one of the best players he’s ever had in his program. This particular player is a 4-star small forward recruit from the Class of 2019, and already has offers from five schools, including one from Michigan State. He’s 6’6” and 200 pounds and just led New Haven High School to the State Championship in basketball. He is Romeo Weems.
“It was overwhelming,” Weems told Spartan Nation of what it felt like to get his Michigan State offer. “It was just a special moment, just knowing that my hard work was paying off and everyone was seeing it.”
Weems, who’s still just a 15-year old sophomore at New Haven High School, has offers from MSU, Ohio State, Iowa, Detroit and Oakland. He’s also had interest from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arizona and Xavier.
“I started playing in 6th grade. About 8th or 9th grade, I started feeling like I’m good and people started talking about me,” Romeo stated.
And they haven’t stopped talking about him since.
Part of what attracts these schools to a kid like Romeo is not just his scoring abilities - those are actually secondary to him; it’s the fact that he prefers to get his teammates involved whenever possible and never neglects the importance of defense.
“I like playing defense…it’s just fun,” he admitted. “I feel like you could have way more fun playing defense. Stop them from scoring – you don’t have to shoot, dribble, nothing…just stand in front of them and block it, rebound it or change their shots up.”
The fact that Romeo cares more about defense than he does about padding his own stats on the offensive end also speaks to his character. He genuinely cares more about the impact he makes on his team in ways that don’t involve the score sheet. Minus the character issues, a solid comparison strictly playing-wise is Dennis Rodman.
“That’s great; he’s a great rebounder, great defender and he can score, but sometimes to a fault, he’s so unselfish,” Coach France said. “He wants to pass and get his teammates involved – he’d rather see his teammates score than him because he wants them to be successful. That’s why we were State Champions.”
But when it comes to his own play, Romeo Weems encompasses a trait that Tom Izzo frequently talks about – he’s not only the best player but also the hardest worker.
“When you have a kid like him that’s highly-ranked, and he comes each day and practices each day and makes those around him better – he takes charge in practice, he demands the best, not just from himself but from his teammates – and when you’ve got a kid like that that’s coming each day and is making the kids give more, that helps us become a better team,” Coach France explained.
“I would say he’s a great leader because he has the ability to make those around him better – there’s just a few kids that can do that and he has that unique skill set,” Coach France continued. “That’s special to see from such a young kid – he’s still just 15 – but I always joke with him and say he plays like a 5th-year senior. His IQ of the game is so high and the way he can lead his teammates is special to see.”
Romeo is humble about his game, and mature in the way he carries himself. He’s realistic that there are elements to work on, but not being 100% perfect all the time frustrates him.
“I hate failing,” Weems admitted. “When I miss a shot I know I should have made, I hate that because I know I put the work in to make it. If I miss, I know why I missed – I got lazy or I shot it flat – so I’m hurting myself because I know I could do better.”
“He wants to be coached, he wants to be coached hard, he wants to get better,” Coach France added. “He texts me at night saying, 'Coach, what do I have to do to get better?’ He’s so tough on himself to be perfect – sometimes you fall short of that, but you can still be very good. He’s just a kid that gets better each day. Each day I come in to practice or film sessions, he does something or says something that makes me take a step back and say Wow, this kid really knows the game, he cares, he loves it. Besides the game, he loves just living life, being here, just being around his friends, learning.”
Clearly, Romeo Weems is a well-rounded kid both on and off the court, and he gave us his thoughts on a variety of topics:
On his family – “They’ve just been there for me all the time. My mom and my dad have been to every game. My brother played football, my other brother played basketball, my sister’s in college, my other sister is married. They just support me. My cousins, aunts, uncles – they just support me, call me and congratulate me. They’re just always helping.”
On the importance of academics – “My dad always tells me, ‘You’ve gotta keep your grades up because you could break your leg, anything, anytime – it’s not guaranteed, so just keep your grades up and get an education.”
On Tom Izzo – “I like him. He’s cool. He’s a good guy – not just a strict coach, but from what I’ve seen, he jokes around with the players, so he’s cool.”
On the similarities between Coach France and Coach Izzo – “They both like to play defense – I’ve seen a lot of games where players didn’t play because of defense. You might have a bad shooting night, but you can always play defense.”
On Miles Bridges – “He can do everything – he can shoot, pass, take you off the dribble, get rebounds, block shots. He’s super athletic – he can dunk and touch the top of the backboard.”
On Michigan State campus and the game day experience – “It’s sweet! The games are super hype, the campus is sweet!”
Romeo Weems has so many facets to his game and his life that you simply can’t pinpoint one or two qualities to define him. But perhaps, he’s best summed up by his high school coach.
“To me, the sky’s the limit for him because his character is so good,” Coach France said. “It’s not an act, it’s not a show…that’s him each day, all day!”