It's a small yet satisfying story of devotion.
My friend Jeff Eisenberg, he of Yahoo! Sports' The Dagger, brought it to my attention this week.
So you've got Kyle Weems at Missouri State. He was the Missouri Valley Player of the Year last season. Sprite, able forward who boosted the Bears to a 26-9 record and a regular-season MVC title. A fantastic mid-major player, for sure.
He's going to graduate this summer, before the season starts. What's it mean? It means if Weems wanted to, he could transfer anywhere else in his fifth and final season of eligibility. You couldn't blame him for doing so; few would notice the transfer, to be honest, and with a year's worth of house money, so to speak, why not give it a go at a major program? After all, Weems just lost his head coach, Cuonzo Martin, who took the Tennessee job in April. It would be his last and only chance to earn playing time on that kind of level, with that kind of exposure.
Kansas, Oregon, Kansas State, California -- they all expressed interest in Weems joining for a season. But Weems isn't going anywhere. He'll ride out his college career in Springfield, Mo., putting on his shoulders the effort to reach the NCAA tournament, the first for the program since Weems arrived.
"Deep down in my heart I knew I wanted to be an MSU Bear for my whole career," Weems said. "This has been my home for the past four years. I want to leave a legacy here. I want people to remember me for always having a smile on my face, for playing hard and for being a winner. I think I've done a pretty good job of that, but I felt like there's more work to do, especially an NCAA tournament bid. That's why I wasn't ready to leave."
There's more detailed reporting from Eisenberg, like how Weems' parents have remained loyal at their jobs and been dedicated to their communities since he was born. There are principles with his parents that he wants to emulate. It includes this rational level of thinking which, frankly, is a little startling to hear from a college basketball player with options to go bigger and "better."
"That's dedication," Weems said. "If they can work a 9-to-5 job like that, then I feel I can be loyal to a university, which has done nothing but great things for me."How about that. Hey, good on Weems. The Missouri Valley should be fairly interesting this year (isn't it always?), but this will be one storyline to follow. And even if the Bears can't manage an NCAA berth, if they're successful and competitive, it's doubtful Weems will have any regrets.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE