Romeo Weems didn’t hide from expectations. He met them head-on.
A touted ninth-grader when he enrolled at New Haven, whose stock rose when the Rockets won a state championship in his sophomore season, Weems improved his game every year and capped his prep career by winning the Mr. Basketball award for Michigan.
He has since added a second consecutive state Player of the Year awards from The Associated Press, winning the Division 2 honor in a vote of sports writers from across Michigan.
“Romeo expected more from himself than any other person could have,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. “He continued to work hard, staying in the gym and weight room, studying film and working on his game both physically and mentally.”
The 6-foot-7 Weems, who has signed with DePaul, averaged 26.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.5 assists while helping New Haven to a 24-2 record and a berth in the state quarterfinals.
His scoring average rose every season, and Weems had a career total of 2,151 points, more than any other player from Macomb County, according to a list compiled by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
“Almost every night,” France said, "he would face double- and triple-teams, and every junk defense in the book to try to stop him, but his ability to be the ultimate teammate and make the right reads and plays over and over made teams realize they couldn’t use those defenses because he would hurt them in so many ways.
“He did not have to score to greatly impact the game. To put up the type of numbers he has despite being every teams’ main focus every night shows how great he is and the trust he has in his teammates and in our system.”
New Haven routinely played before large crowds. Fans sometimes directed unflattering chants at Weems, and some sought him out for autographs.
The attention, he often said, made him work harder.
"I'm just enjoying it all," he said while signing for a young fan after a regional victory over Pontiac.
New Haven did not lose a district or regional tournament game in Weems’ four seasons. The Rockets made two state final-four appearances and won 99 games with Weems on the roster.
"Romeo brought to every practice the same passion, energy and hunger to compete that he brought to every game,"
France said. "He loves to practice and he loves to compete, which led to one of the greatest high school career performances I have seen as a coach."
Weems was joined on the All-State first team by 10 players, including senior
Tyler VanKoevering of state champion Hudsonville Unity Christian and senior Nigel Colvin of state finalist River Rouge.
Also named by the writers' votes were SirQuarius Ball of Bridgeport; Austin Braun of Grand Rapids Catholic Central; Zach Goodline of Coloma; Carlos Johnson of Benton Harbor, Sean Cobb of Williamston; Brady Swinehart of Ionia; Charlie Woodhams of Otsego, and Sudi McElroy of Ferndale.
Johnson and Woodhams are juniors. The other first team players are seniors.
Scott Soodsma of Unity Christian was named Coach of the Year.