Sonny Weems partners with DevilNation
The former Blue Devil, Razor back and NBA player has become a financial supporter of local AAUprogram
By Collins Peeples
firstname.lastname@example.org One of Crittenden County’s AAU basketball programs just got a huge surge of local support, with West Memphis native and former NBA player Sonny Weems agreeing to sponsor the Arkansas DevilNation Teem Weems organization.
Alvin Hawkins, former coach of DevilNation, the local AAU organization which serves five teams 13U-17U, played ball with Weems in high school and says the recent partnership came about when the two reunited by chance in Fayetteville last year.
“We recently took the team to Fayetteville last year to visit the University of Arkansas sports facilities,” Hawkins said.
“Sonny so happened to be there and bump into us while he was there working out and going to summer school. He came and watched a few of our games. From then, he and I had conversations about doing something together with him helping out a little bit.”
DevilNation – Team Weems works with around 60 kids throughout the five age groups and Hawkins said that Weems provided all their players with new gear, ranging from Nike bags to Nike socks and shirts. Hawkins said that Weems also contributes financially with some DevilNation players who are invited to premier basketball camps such as Future 150 and Point Guard College.
“He also helps with travel and everything,” Hawkins said. “Basically, he helps with a lot of gear and he’s helped send a couple of our guys to camps that they were selected to attend. It’s basically a lot of funding that helps us out. It’s a major help because we’re not a Woods Elite program or a Team Penny program.”
The training that some of the local players have gotten at those high-profile camps is already paying dividends for Weems new team, with four DevilNation – Team Weems teams competing in Searcy this past weekend at the Pre-National Slam Dunk tournament and two of the local teams winning first place in their respective age groups.
Hawkins calls the group of players a dream team of local talent.
“By being on a summer team, if you have a 15-yearold team, we’re getting Marion’s best point guard, East Junior High’s best shooting guard. Wonder’s best power forward,” Hawkins said.
Of course, the best players from local schools such as West Memphis, Marion, Wynne and Nettleton mesh well together on the court. But, playing summer ball together also serves as a way to build relationships off of the hardwood, strengthening county bonds between players from West Memphis and Marion.
“A lot of times you get rival guys who get to know each other and realize, ‘Hey man, you’re pretty cool,”’ Hawkins said. “Marion and West Memphis are rivals, but you got kids from both teams that are actually with us and are bonding together. They bond better than some of the other teammates do sometimes.”
A lot of that bonding happens on the road as DevilNation- Team Weems travels, be it in Cape Girardeau, Missouri or Jackson, Tennessee (places the teams have played this season). Hawkins says the players enjoy scouting out different restaurants as they travel, with Chick-Fil-A always being a favorite option. Players also enjoy activities like going to Dave N Busters, typically two out of three days a week, with tournaments being not just all about basketball but about enjoying their time away from home.
“They get a chance to get out of the house,” Hawkins said. “So, it’s kind of like a mini vacation for them. The kids that don’t really get a summer vacation, we kind of provide that as well.”
Still on the list of destinations for DevilNation Team Weems this season is Houston, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri and Fayetteville.
Team DevilNation – Team Weems celebrates winning the Pre-National Slam Dunk tournament in Conway this past weekend