Kyle Weems has been a winner on every level of basketball and has arguably had the most accomplished career of any player ever from Topeka
Weems is looking to add to his impressive resume when he takes the floor in the EuroCup Final with French-side Strasbourg later this month.
“It’s been crazy to be acknowledged as one of the top two teams left in the EuroCup,” Weems said. “We struggled a little bit in the EuroLeague, but those are the best teams in Europe and we still beat two of the top three teams with the largest budgets with $25-30 million. To be able to beat those kind of gave us some ambitions and goals for the EuroCup. We started off 4-0, got things rolling, and we want to go down swinging.”
The 26-year old’s career accomplishments including winning a EuroLeague title last year with JSF Nanterre, helping lead Missouri State to its first ever Missouri Valley Conference regular season title in college, and won two high school state championships at Highland Park.
“Winning is just something that I’ve always been taught from a young age where the team is always bigger than yourself,” Weems said. “Starting back with playing for Jeff Dishman on the Topeka Jayhawks and then coach (Ken) Darting, coach (Cuonzo) Martin, and coach (Paul) Lusk—everybody was pretty much the same. I was built for it by the time I got over here.
“To leave a mark and win important games for all of those different levels—now that I think about it and look back—it’s pretty remarkable. It’s definitely something that I cherish and I’ll be looking back on for the rest of my life. It’s something I’ll be able to tell my kids and God-willing my grandkids and be able to share stories with them and hopefully instill it in them as well because it’s all about the legacy you leave behind. Nobody remembers if you averaged 18 points a game, but you lost. They remember the guys that were on those winning teams so that’s how I want to be remembered.”
The first leg of the EuroCup Final against Galatasaray Odeabank is April 22 at Strasbourg with the second leg on April 27 in Istanbul, Turkey. The winner is determined by most points scored in the two games.
Galatasaray is 10-1 at home in EuroCup play. They are led by Errick McCollum, a dynamic scorer who scored 82 points in a game in China last year
Strasbourg has shown great resiliency in the quarterfinals and semifinals coming back from losses in the first game to advance with big Game 2 performances.
“We’re playing well together and sharing the ball,” Weems said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons and a lot of veterans. Our chemistry is good right now and this is really a once in a lifetime opportunity—it’s just like in the NBA, you might play 13-15 seasons and not win a title or even make it to the playoffs and I’m about to play in back-to-back European finals. Last year I was able to win the EuroChallenge and this year I have a chance to win the EuroCup, which would be crazy and unheard of. Not only has been a blessing for the teams that I’m on and the clubs that I’ve played for, but also for me as an individual because it does nothing but help for next year.
Weems, who is averaging 12.0 points in 12 EuroCup games, scored 35 points in Game 2 against Nizhny Novgorod to help send Strasbourg into the semifinals.
“I think I had 12 in the first half, but I was extra aggressive,” Weems said. “There’s times like last year when I had 34 on 16 shots so this was kind of new to me to have it on 28 shots—that’s unheard of in Europe. Shooting 28 times is crazy, you might get 28 shots in four or five games. I was just happy my team had faith in me and my coaches for telling me to be aggressive. Our drivers and guards got to the basket well in the first game in Nizhny so when we came back home the other team felt like, ‘We want Weems to beat us.’ Our guards kept kicking it to me. I think I was 5 for 15 from 3, which isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible, and I was 10 for 13 from 2. I was putting it on the floor a little bit and my mid-range was working. Just to be able to make shots and help the team and the club get to a level it’s never been to before at the semifinals and winning was huge.”
In Pro A league play, France’s top division, Strasbourg is in second place with a 19-8 record with seven games left in the regular season. Strasbourg is Weems’ fourth professional team in four seasons.
“It’s a little bit different,” Weems said of his Strasbourg experience. “All of the other teams I’ve played on had four to five other new guys each year, but this year I was only one of three new players. It’s been good. They welcomed me in with open arms. The coach is well-established, a French national team coach, so it was more about being accepted and fitting in and just feeling my way out as opposed to gelling with a whole new team. It was a little easier transition, but the expectations were a little bit higher because they made it to the Finals in the French league the last three years and we lost in EuroLeague coming in. It’s been good though.”