Joseph Hayes, The Times Herald
CORUNNA — Everywhere he goes, attention seems to follow him.
Romeo Weems is a marked man. It's impossible for him to go unnoticed. And yes, he knows you're watching. It seems like everyone is, as Weems continues to ascend higher and higher in the basketball world.
The New Haven junior has become the talk of the state, with a following that makes him one of the more prominent high school athletes in the nation.
"I want to go to the league," Weems said of his goal to play in the NBA. "Right now, this experience is making me tougher and I'm getting used to adversity.
"It's flattering when people come and watch us play. I just play hard and do what I do every day. I'm trying to feed my family the one way I know how. This is the way to have fun and the way out for me. I appreciate everyone that comes out. I'm just doing this for my family."
On Tuesday, basketball fans traveled from all across Michigan to Corunna High School to watch Weems and his teammates defeat Bridgeport, 78-72, in a Class B state quarterfinal. With the victory, New Haven advanced to Friday's state semifinal against Grand Rapids Catholic Central at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
For a person living with so much attention being placed on him, Weems seems to be handling it all in stride as he continues to focus on the task at hand — winning his second state title.
He wasn't his dominant self Tuesday, beset with foul trouble for much of the second half. But he continued to showcase his vast ability while stuffing the stat sheet with 13 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and three steals.
"My teammates played well and they had my back," Weems said. "I was on the sideline with the fouls and Ronald (Jeffrey III) kept us going. I had to give him the ball. He was going. He kept me going. I could look and say where's Ronald at.
"I felt like I had to impact the game some way. I look at the bigger picture."
That bigger picture includes a list of goals ranging from winning another high school state championship to playing college basketball and eventually winding up in the NBA. Those would be lofty goals for anyone. But it doesn't appear the least bit unrealistic for a player as talented as Weems.
At 6-foot-6, he is an impactful player on both sides of the court. On offense, he has excelled in the open court and dominated in the paint while improving from 3-point range. He is also a great on-ball defender and a dominant help-side defender who is versatile enough to lead a press or clean up shots in the lane.
With 1-2 games remaining in the season, Weems is starring on a team with a 52-game win streak and he holds offers from more schools than there is room to print. Everyone wants Weems and it's hard not to wonder where he will wind up.
In the crowd for Tuesday game was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. The developing relationship has fueled speculation Weems could end up at MSU. But for his part, Weems just seems to be enjoying it all.
He is a fan, after all.
"I'm a fan, it's March Madness," Weems responded when asked how much attention he gives the tournament. "For the Michigan game, I watched their whole game. It came down to the end and they were playing. That Blue don't stop.
He hit that shot and I said let's go. The State game was on when I was at practice. I heard they lost and I was like, dang. We still have Michigan in the tournament, so we good."
One day Weems will play for a college like Michigan or Michigan State. But he continues to live in the moment and play for the present.
"I have to keep working so I can get there," Weems said. "Anything can happen. I have to keep strong and keep getting better offensively and defensively and get my skills better so I can get there.
"I'm staying locked in and working hard. You give it everything you have. It's the last two games."
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Hayes11.
CLASS B STATE SEMIFINALS
WHO: New Haven (26-0) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (23-2)
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m., Breslin Center, East Lansing
ON THE LINE: A spot in Saturday's state championship game