Romeo Weems hopes to have at DePaul the kind of impact he made at New Haven.
Spurning three Big Ten programs that were among his five finalists, the 6-foot-7 junior wing said Tuesday he will play college basketball at DePaul, a Chicago program with a new arena and a coach in his second stint with the Blue Demons.
Weems went to New Haven as a ninth-grade school of choice enrollee, joining a basketball program that had had a lot of success but never reached the semifinals of the state tournament.
As a sophomore, Weems helped the Rockets win their first state crown, and last season he led the Macomb Area Conference school back to the semifinals, where New Haven lost to Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
If Weems, whose five finalists included Pac-12 member Oregon, made a decision that surprised others, it was one that he said was carefully thought out and presents opportunities for him to lift a college program while enhancing his resume for the NBA.
“When I came to New Haven, people said, ‘Why New Haven?’” Weems, 16, said. “So now people might say, ‘Why DePaul?’ It’s a program that’s on the rise.”
Weems said DePaul coaches, including head coach Dave Leitao, were different from others because they critiqued his play rather than always praising him after seeing New Haven play.
“That was important to me,” he said.
Weems, a veteran of USA Basketball and elite AAU play, plans to become part of the foundation at DePaul, which went 11-20 last season for its 11th consecutive losing campaign.