Prep notebook: New Haven's Romeo Weems keeps working as colleges line up

David Goricki
The Detroit News

New Haven — Romeo Weems was greeted by Ohio State assistant coach Terry Johnson after he got out of film room Friday afternoon at New Haven High School and took the floor to take some shots.

It’s just another day at the office for Weems, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound junior who is one of the top players in the country.

Weems earned a gold medal while starting on the U.S. Junior National team this summer, playing in Argentina, working on his game while having a lot of fun along the way.

Weems is having even more fun during his junior year, averaging 26.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 4.4 steals to help defending Class B state champion New Haven to a 12-0 start (6-0 Macomb Area Conference Blue Division).

It’s safe to say New Haven 10th-year coach Tedaro France has done an excellent job of developing talent.

After all, Eric Williams Jr. — who played on the state championship team — is one of the premier freshmen in the country, averaging 15.1 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range (50-of-124) to help Duquesne to a 14-8 record in Keith Dambrot’s first year following the Dukes’ 10-22 record (3-15 Atlantic 10) last season.

France feels he has another player similar to Williams in 6-7 senior Ashton Sherrell, who is averaging 17.5 points to help New Haven’s winning streak reach 38 games, a Macomb County record.

“He can shoot the 3, handle the ball,” France said of Sherrell, who is being recruited by St. Bonaventure and several Mid-American Conference teams. “He’s a 4, so he can post up and he’s physically gifted where he can block shots defensively.”

France also has 6-0 senior guard Tavares Oliver and 6-1 junior Ronald Jeffery to give Weems and Sherrell a strong supporting cast. Oliver scored 29 Thursday in a win over Warren Fitzgerald, making six 3-pointers.

France said New Haven’s enrollment is 360, qualifying it as a Class C school, but added he wants to remain playing in Class B to face better competition. New Haven already owns victories over multiple Class A schools in non-conference play, including three-time MAC Red champion Macomb Dakota, Catholic League power Warren De La Salle and Grosse Pointe South.

But, back to Weems.

“Romeo has such a high IQ of the game,” France said. “(He) has always been our hardest worker, and when your best player is also your hardest worker others just follow. He’s in the gym with them before school and they stay in the gym after practice.

“His work ethic is unreal. He’s improved every year, like now his shot has improved, his 3-point shot is really good. He’s 6-foot-7 and can defend. He’s athletic, can pass like a point guard and shoot like a shooting guard. His vision is great. His ceiling is so high because of his size and he can play 1-through-5, and the thing about him is he’s so unselfish, where he’d rather set up his teammates than score, but he can score when he wants to score.”

Weems is a humble, respectful, coachable young man, a reason college coaches can’t wait to bring him into their programs. He isn’t close to making a decision on his future, just enjoying being around France and his teammates.

“Sometimes coaches stop by to watch practice, just see how we’re doing; it’s fun,” Weems said. “I’ve been offered by Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, DePaul, Creighton, Oakland, VCU, Missouri and Iowa. I’ve been looking at colleges, but I’m just going to wait and see where I’ll fit in at. I’ve taken some unofficial visits to Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and DePaul. I watched a game at Michigan when they played Rutgers, went to the Michigan-Michigan State game, too.”

What area does Weems feel he’s improved the most?

“I’ve been scoring the ball better offensively,” said Weems of his average, up from 18.3 points a year ago. “The team has been playing good, we just have to do a little bit of stuff to keep working on to become a great team, another state championship team, so things are going well.

“I’ve always been in the gym a lot, but I’ve been in the gym even more, just working on my jumper, working on my dribbling, moves to get to the basket, really just working on everything to get better. I feel like I’m stronger too, more athletic, more bouncy so that’s helped, too.

“We’ve just been playing, taking it game by game and we continue to improve on that win streak. We watch film every day, work hard in practice every day so we’re ready for games. I feel we can repeat if we continue playing hard and playing together, just play the way we have now and continue to get better.”

No doubt, France will have New Haven ready to play hard-nose defense. After all, France got after it when he played defensive back at Central Michigan in the late ‘90s.

“We’re in great shape, and when teams get tired we get going,” France said. “We play great defense. We’re limiting teams to 45 points a game. We get out and run, press and trap a lot. We pressure you, play tough man-to-man defense and we do it without fouling. We want to make more free throws than other teams attempt.

“We watch film, study the scouting report and then practice. I tell the kids these days here are my game day. The kids know what to expect from me and then they can execute. When game day comes, that’s their day.”

France’s plan has been a recipe for success at New Haven.

Showdown week

It’s showdown week in Metro Detroit, and no game will be bigger than Tuesday night’s OAA Red battle between defending Class A state champion Clarkston at unbeaten Hazel Park.

Clarkston showcases one of the top seniors in the state in 6-0 guard Foster Loyer, who will face strong competition from Hazel Park’s Carl Bow.

Meanwhile, Detroit Cass Tech will be on its revenge tour, trying to avenge its lone losses this week against Henry Ford and Renaissance. Cass Tech will host Ford on Tuesday, then play host at Renaissance on Friday.

Macomb Dakota — which is having a solid season without MSU-bound Thomas Kithier,who transferred to Clarkston, but ruled ineligible by the Michigna High School Athletic Association — will play Friday at Sterling Heights Stevenson with first place in the MAC Red at stake.

PSL girls basketball playoffs start Thursday

The Detroit Public School League girls basketball playoffs get underway Thursday at home sites with second-round games set for Feb. 7, semifinals Feb. 12 and the championship game Feb. 16 at Calihan Hall.

The PSL boys basketball playoffs are set to open with first-round games Feb. 6 with second-round games on Feb. 9, semifinals Feb. 13 at the title game on Feb. 16 at Calihan.