Four-star basketball recruit formally announces he will attend DePaul during a news conference at New Haven High School on Tuesday. Matt Charboneau
New Haven — Michigan and Michigan State have made a habit of landing the top basketball players in the state, however, one slipped away from both the Spartans and Wolverines on Tuesday.
Romeo Weems, the top-rated player in the state for 2019, announced in a ceremony in the New Haven High School gym that he was committing to DePaul, choosing the Blue Demons over Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon.
“It was a hard decision,” Weems said. “But I feel the decision I made is the best decision for me and my family to carry on my career.
“It was a tough decision. I know everybody is gonna ask, ‘Why DePaul?’ Why not DePaul? They asked me when I came to New Haven, ‘Why New Haven?’ I’ve always been different. I feel like DePaul is rebuilding. When I get there, we’re gonna rebuild.
"We’re gonna keep going and we’re gonna be successful.”
The rebuilding at DePaul will be no easy task, even with the 6-foot-7 Weems, who will be a favorite to win Mr. Basketball next season. The Blue Demons haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament since the 2003-04 season and have had only two winning seasons since. Coach Dave Leitao just completed his third season at DePaul, compiling a 29-65 record.
However, that didn’t deter Weems, who said one of the main reasons he chose DePaul was it gave him a good chance to get to the NBA.
“I never really had a favorite college,” Weems said. “What I was looking for in college was to get better and to become a pro and be successful. I feel I was looking for that in every college. So I didn’t really have a favorite college.”
Many believed that favorite was Michigan State, but Weems said any talk of him leaning toward one school was simply a rumor. Instead, he becomes the first commitment for the Blue Demons. He’s a four-star prospect who is rated the No. 37 overall player in the nation, according to the composite rankings at 247sports.com.
Weems helped New Haven win the Class B state championship his sophomore year, then put together a Macomb County 52-game winning streak this past winter before a state semifinal loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central at the Breslin Center.
Weems was a double-double machine and he frequently put together a triple-double and on one occasion, a quadruple-double (21 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists, 10 steals) in a regional final win over Detroit Country Day.
Weems showed his ability to score in bunches when he scored 40, along with 16 rebounds and 10 steals in a win over Macomb Dakota. He averaged 23.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 4.8 steals a game his junior year to earn a spot on The News Dream team for the first time.
“They’re getting the complete package,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said. “They all know he’s a great player but they’re getting a great kid that is a great leader. It’s been a blessing to be able to coach him. The things he’ll do there are gonna be special.”
While he said getting to the next level was a big reason he chose DePaul, Weems didn’t seem to mind the fact the Blue Demons haven’t had a player drafted in the NBA since 2007 when Wilson Chandler went in the first round and Sammy Mejia was taken in the second round.
In that same span, Michigan State has had seven players drafted while Michigan has had nine. Add in the fact two Spartans — Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges – will likely go in the lottery next month and the Wolverines’ Moritz Wagner will also likely be a first-round pick and it would seem an odd reason to select the Blue Demons.
But Weems said his connection with the coaching staff, namely assistant Tim Anderson was critical. Anderson has made a name for himself as a trainer and has worked with several players who have reached the NBA.
“Me and Coach Tim, we talk a lot,” Weems said. “We talk all the time. We’ve built a relationship and he’s worked with former pros and he’s a former trainer and I think he can take my game to the next level.”
The focus now for Weems is to get back to the state title game as a senior and possibly be named Mr. Basketball. Then, it’s off to DePaul, even if it’s not the choice many believed he would make.
“He wanted to do things his own way,” France said. “He wanted to be different. Some people feel he’s gotta go to this school or that school. They’re all great schools, they’re all great coaches. But it’s about him and he made a choice based off him and his family.”