Assistant coach has friends in high places


James and Weems played basketball together at St. Vincent-St. Mary

Brandon Weems knows the greatest basketball player on the planet personally, but he has started to create his own brand.

Before he became an assistant coach for Oakland University Golden Grizzlies, Weems was an accomplished basketball player in Akron, Ohio, where he and Lebron James led St. Vincent-St. Mary to two state championships.

Since their high school playing days, Weems and James have stayed incredibly close over the years with Weems being the best man at James’ wedding.

“I am able to talk to him daily, tell him things I like or don’t like, we got that type of relationship where it is not all ‘Yeah man, good job’ and stuff like that,” said Weems.

Weems played at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, from 2004-2008. He was a part of the team that won the NAIA National Championship in 2005 and was an All-American in 2008. He would become a part of Walsh’s record books when he recorded 1,160 points and 649 assists during his four years there, which is good enough to put him in the top five of each category.

Weems started his coaching career at Kentucky for three seasons where he worked with legendary head coach John Calipari. Weems added another championship to his resume as he was a part of the staff when the Wildcats won the 2012 national championship.

While he was there, Calipari would hold coaching clinics every fall. Coaches from all over the country would come and speak to about 30 coaches Calipari picked out. Oakland coach Greg Kampe would always be one of the speakers, and Weems started to build a relationship with Kampe there.

After one season at Drexel, Weems learned about an opening at Oakland when men’s basketball assistant coach Jeff Tungate took the head-coaching job for the women’s basketball team. After Kampe received a strong recommendation from Calipari, a couple of interviews and a campus visit, Weems got the position.

Weems admits that he did not know much of Oakland before he got here, but he knew that opportunities like this did not come around all that often.

“For me personally, it was an opportunity to be an assistant coach, which is something I always wanted to be,” said Weems. “I knew they were a good program and that they always competed and played a lot of big teams tough.”

One of the reasons coach Kampe decided to bring in Weems as an assistant is because Weems is able to expand Golden Grizzly recruiting into Ohio. Oakland has signed Jaevin Cumberland of Wilmington, Ohio, for 2015-16.

“I try to bring in different guys that maybe we weren’t able to get before. What I mean by that is that I have a big influence in Ohio, so I try to get our name out there and try to spark a little bit of interest from that standpoint,” said Weems.

As for James’ visit to the O’rena for Oakland’s 59-56 victory against Cleveland State Jan. 26, Weems said it meant a lot to him. Weems said James gave him a couple of pointers and overall really liked what he saw of the Grizzlies.

Weems was also quick to point out that he is undefeated when James is in the building.

He described James as a brother and someone that he could always talk to about anything. They support each other in whatever they are doing and they have been able to stay close through everything that happens.

For example, following Oakland’s 96-80 victory Sunday over Youngstown State, the Grizzlies changed plans and stayed overnight in Akron due to a snowstorm.

Weems tweeted Monday morning to his buddy: “Surprise visit…thanks for the hospitality @KingJames”

“We are a real family so he’ll listen to what I have to say, and I’ll listen to him. It’s all love.”