Romeo Weems ready to make instant impact at DePaul

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Romeo Weems ready to make instant impact at DePaul

DePaul frehsman forward Romeo Weems backs down in the post in the Blue Demons’ open scrimmage.

DePaul frehsman forward Romeo Weems backs down in the post in the Blue Demons’ open scrimmage.

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

DePaul frehsman forward Romeo Weems backs down in the post in the Blue Demons’ open scrimmage.

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

DePaul frehsman forward Romeo Weems backs down in the post in the Blue Demons’ open scrimmage.

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For Romeo Weems picking DePaul over schools like Michigan State and Ohio State came down to a simple decision: He wants to be coached.

During his recruitment process, Weems was being looked at by some of the country’s most elite college basketball programs, teams like Michigan, Oregon, Ohio State and Michigan State were heavily going after the New Haven, Michigan native. But, while those schools have more name recognition and have had more success than DePaul in the last decade, one thing stood out to Weems in terms of what DePaul was telling him compared to what the other schools were telling him: He can still get better.

“I just feel more at home [at DePaul],” Weems said. “During the recruitment process, a lot of coaches was telling me everything I did well instead of what I need to do to get better. I feel like DePaul was one of the only coaches, it was a couple more, but it was one of the only coaches that told me what I could do to get better, winning games, become a better player, stuff like that. [They] also told me stuff that I did well, but as a kid I know everyone wants to hear that, but me I want to be better everyday. So, I wanted to hear the stuff I needed to better and I just felt more at home than other schools.

For Weems, who was a four-star recruit and plays small forward, his mindset is to improve his game on a daily basis, he knows that you don’t have to go to an “elite” college basketball school in order to have a successful college career or even make it to the NBA.

“I feel like me and my teammates all got great energy, great athleticism, we all got the chance to do something special,” Weems said. “We got a whole new team, it’s like eight new players. So, I just wanted to come here, flip the program around with them, show other kids that you don’t have to go to the Dukes, Kentucky, Michigan States like that to go to the NBA. There’s a lot of great players in the league that went to low-majors, Steph Curry, Kawhi Lenoard, you can be a great player you just gotta put the work in no matter where you go.”

In high school, Weems constantly improved his game from his sophomore season to his senior year, where he averaged 27.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game at New Haven and was named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball. In his early days at DePaul, the thing that has stood out to head coach Dave Leitao was his energy and willingness to learn.

“He’s a lot, very positive energy, he’s worked extremely hard, he’s mature beyond his years, he’s surprisingly good defensively for a guy who’s only been practicing a few weeks,” Leitao said. “He’s accepted things very quick, he’s able to do what you ask him to do on both ends of the floor. Like all freshmen, he’s got really good days and he’s got days where he has to figure some things out that’s very typical. But he’s maintained a really good attitude and wants to learn which is the best part from a coaching standpoint is a guy that really, really wants to learn and get better. Put all of those things together and we are really excited not just for now but for the future.”

Weems isn’t the only DePaul player who’s being talked about by the national media going into this season, players like fellow freshman Markese Jacobs and junior Paul Reed are being discussed as serious playmakers for the Blue Demons this season. “It means a lot because we need all the pieces we can get and [Romeo] is a big piece of the puzzle right now with his length and athleticism,” Reed said. “So, it just means a lot [to have him at the program].

Weems has no questions about this team because he believes not only will DePaul make the NCAA Tournament but when they do, they will make a deep run in the tournament.

“Honestly, yes, I feel like we got a chance, a great chance, everyone puts in the work and honestly I feel like we can go to the tournament,” Weems said. “And when we get to the tournament, the way everybody on my team is, the way we lock in in a tough situation. I feel like where everybody is from we all come out from the mud, so I feel like when we get there we are going to make noise.”

Weems’ passion for basketball began when he was in eighth grade, but he has been involved in sports his whole life. He began playing football at a young age, but when he was around 13-14 years old he started to get recruited and got calls from Team USA. While his goal is to play in the NBA one day and be a successful player, Weems’ dreams and hopes is that his basketball talents end up providing for his mom and dad.

“I grew up playing football and then I started playing basketball, around eighth grade I started getting recruited, ninth grade I started getting USA looks,” Weems said. “I just feel that this is a good way to feed my family, take care of my mom everything she did for us, my pops everything he did for us. Give back to my city, just live my life.”