It’s been awhile since the DePaul Blue Demons have had an impact freshman like Romeo Weems.
The New Haven, Michigan native comes in as a heralded recruit. The 6-7 forward was ranked as a four star prospect, the 62nd best player in the class of 2019 on the 247Sports.com Composite rankings, the number one player in the state of Michigan, and the 11th best power forward in the nation.
Weems was recognized on the international stage as well, having played on the USA national team for his age group the last two years and brought home gold medals each time.
Romeo chose DePaul over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Oregon.
Weems has a reputation as a stat. stuffer.
As a senior at New Haven High School, he averaged 27.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. He led the Rockets to the Michigan Class B state quarterfinals.
He’s a guy who will make an immediate impact as a starter for the Blue Demons.
“He was a Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan,” said Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao. “I think he’s going to have a tremendous year for us. He’s a guy who can fill a lot of categories. He can score, he can rebound, he’s athletic, he can run, in the early part of his career he looks like he can be a really good defender, and he’s a great teammate.”
Since arriving on campus in June, Weems has been adjusting to college life.
“It’s been great,” said Weems. “Every day I’m getting better. I’m getting more and more used to the school and the basketball part of it. It’s been tough, but it’s been good tough. The team has been coming together well. The coaches and everybody are getting used to each other.”
It is never easy for freshmen to get accustomed to life at the next level, as Leitao will attest.
“They (freshman) have moments where they feel really comfortable and a lot of other moments where they feel lost, because that’s typical for somebody that’s new,” Leitao said.
To ease into that life, Weems got to travel with his new teammates to France and Italy in August, where the Demons went 3-0 on their tour against European teams. Romeo averaged 10 points and five rebounds per game while playing 22.7 minutes per game on the European tour. He shot 54.2 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
“It was a good experience,” Romeo said of the trip. “We were getting a feel for each other. There are a lot of new guys so we have to get that chemistry. I think we did well. We learned some things. It was a learning trip as well as coming together and getting to know each other. We had fun. It was a fun trip.”
Weems is expected to step right in and contribute immediately for the Blue Demons when they open up their season on November 5th at Wintrust Arena. He brings some needed qualities to the team.
“I bring length, defensive rebounding, offensive rebounding, closing out on the shooters, taking away shots, helping in the gaps, especially with length,” Weems said.
With the addition of Weems, the Blue Demons will be a better defensive team this season. It’s an area where the team needs to improve after finishing eighth in the Big East in Defensive Field Goal percentage (45.1%) last season.
“Overall we now have the ability to be more athletic and get to spots quicker,” said Leitao. “I think that was part of what ailed us last year. We were splintered and gave up a lot of threes. Our position may have been OK, but we weren’t as quick to the ball very often. I think Romeo’s athleticism and especially his intent will allow us to, especially for a freshman, quickly be more effective on defense individually and collectively.”
One challenge for this year’s DePaul squad has been blending in newcomers like Weems with the returning veterans on the team.
“It’s been tough of course, but every day I feel like we get better and get more used to it,” said Romeo. “We have our bad days, but every day we get better and step forward and are coming together. All of the younger guys, including me, make mistakes, but that comes with the process.”
It’s a team that looks to improve upon last year’s record.
So what does Weems think the Demons need to do to be successful this season?
“Just play our game, play hard, play smart, attack, rebound, no turnovers, and just play for each other.”