EAST LANSING, Mich. - When Romeo Weems entered high school two and a half years ago, he was supposed to Detroit Country Day. Problem was, he and his family lived an hour away in New Haven. So he decided on New Haven High School, and it has turned out to be the best decision for him. Only a sophomore, Weems led the Rockets to their first Class B state basketball title in school history, and the first by a Macomb County team since 1994.
On the back of the team's warm-ups, is the word "Family" written in cursive, and that is exactly the type of atmosphere Weems has experienced at New Haven since he arrived there.
"It's a great community," Weems said of New Haven. "They came to every game, even when it was in Flint, which is far, they still came. They came here, and everybody have continued to support us, and I love the community here."
One person that Weems continuously gives the praise to, as far as his basketball development and journey as young man goes, is his head coach, Tedaro France. He went to New Haven as well, graduating in 1997, and played basketball, football, and ran track. France returned to the place he was taught the game of basketball and game of life, to spread his wealth of knowledge to players like Weems and his teammates.
"Coaches loves us," said Weems. "It's more than just basketball with him. He really loves us. Even if we're just outside playing or something, he'll just come out and play with us. He's a great guy. If we need something, he's there. If we are in trouble, he's there to help. We needed tutoring, and he got us tutoring this year. So, it's more than just basketball with coach."
A lot of people in the state could not even tell you where New Haven is, a small community of just under 5,000 people. It was not previously known for its sports team, especially in basketball. The furthest the Rockets have ever gone in the state tournament was the quarterfinal round in 2016, 2013, and 1991. But now New Haven can add a basketball state title banner in the gym next season, dedicated to the entire Rockets community.
"Winning this title means so much more than doing it for just the team," said Weems. "This was for everybody from New Haven. This was a long time coming, and we couldn't have done it without the support of our family and fans. It started for me last year, seeing how much they supported the team, and how important it would be to win it all. We accomplished what we came into the season wanting, and I'm glad our fans could experience this with us."
France told the story of how a fan came up to him and thanked him and his team for spreading joy to his dying wife's life with the manner in which they played basketball, and all the support they had received from the community. His kids are rock stars on and off the floor, especially Weems, who is a coveted prospect across the country, and as humble as they come.
"I tell them all the time they that are not playing for just themselves, but for the whole town," France said. "I am so proud of them for how hard they have worked, and the hard work had paid off with this state championship."
"Romeo is one of the leaders of our team, and his play all year has gotten us to this point. Him being a highly-touted player, if you come to our gym, he's taking charges, diving on the floor, and getting his teammates involved. It's just good to see a kid that is still 15-years-old have the IQ of a fifth-year senior. He plays the game so smart, can do it all, and is such a tremendous kid."
The last time the state's top sophomore won a state title was in 2014, when Josh Jackson led Detroit Consortium to the Class C state title. Jackson went on to be a McDonald's All-American as the top player in the nation out of high school, is currently playing at Kansas, and will be drafted in this year's NBA Draft in June. Weems' game has been compared to Jackson's when he was a sophomore, and he is on route to accomplish all that Jackson had done in high school and more.
"I want to win another state championship, get better, try to win Mr. Basketball, and be a McDonald's All-American," said Weems. "I think all of that is possible."