Colleges weren’t interested in the slow, small shooting guard. After Ryan Weems finished his high school basketball career, depression covered him better than a man-to-man defense.
He didn’t want to shoot hoops anymore. College seemed a distant stretch. Then, Serena Weems grabbed her son by his shirt. He was going to college.
“She’s really big on school,” he said. “So I had to go.”
Augusta State is benefitting from Serena Weems’ firm stance. Her son, a junior guard, leads the Jaguars (7-3) with a 15.2 scoring average in his first season in Augusta.
After coming off the bench the first seven games, Weems has started the past three, scoring 23, 27 and 14 points. He’s the team’s top 3-point shooter (22 of 51) and is the best perimeter defender (15 steals).
“There’s a lot of stuff I still have to work on, but so far I think I’m doing pretty good,” he said. “I’ve got to shoot better in conference play, because I know teams are scouting me.”
Weems was born in California and moved to south Florida in fifth grade. He didn’t have his father around in his formative years. So the Weems – Ryan, mom, Serena, and sister, Aliyah, a freshman at Florida A&M – became tight-knit.
“He was around when I was younger, but after a while he went and did his own thing,” Weems said of his father. “We really take family serious when it comes to us three, because it’s all we have.”
Weems started playing basketball at a young age and was known for his shooting prowess at Miramar High School. In four games his senior season, he swished five 3-pointers.
“I could dribble a little bit, but I was always slow,” he said. “I was smaller than this.”
Because of his small stature – he’s now 6-foot, 155 pounds – Weems had just a Division III offer and a junior college offer. He elected to stay minutes from home at Broward Community College. After his freshman season, Weems worked on his speed and his dribbling. Then, he tore his meniscus in December of his sophomore season. Recovery took six months, and the injury scared off the Florida schools interested in him.
Weems stayed at Broward another year to improve his knee. Augusta State coach Dip Metress swooped in and locked up his shooter.
“When I went to recruit him, I remember saying I just liked him as a person,” Metress said. “He was such a nice guy when I met him. And he’s done a great job.”
“Dip’s very family-oriented. When I left home, I needed another home,” Weems said. “I didn’t want to play for a coach who just cared about basketball. I wanted to play for someone who also cared for stuff off the court.”
Weems wants to win – “That’s my No. 1 goal,” he said. He wants to win a conference title and make a run at a national championship this season. Yet, he also sees the bigger picture. He’s planning to graduate with a sociology degree, with a focus on social work.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a father,” he said. “I just want to help kids the best way I can and get them out of bad situations.”