Horace Spencer: Evaluation

Years ago, the Philadelphia area produced a young big man named Horace Spencer. Extreme hype followed that created an unrealistic expectation, but Spencer has maintained a level head and now features as one of the country’s most athletic and defensive centers.


Introduction


Horace Spencer competes with the kind of attitude and aggression that always intrigues when authored by a young big man. From day one on the local and national circuit, Spencer has competed with maximum energy and commendable ferocity.

His introduction within Philadelphia generated unfair levels of melodrama, but rather than succumb to his reputation as a pre-high school phenom, Spencer continued to work. He remains unrefined in many respects but has taken his development seriously, traveled the country to further his development and now is headed to Auburn, which landed him last month.

Spencer grew to 6-8 by his freshman season, making him far taller than most players in his class, even his fellow big men. He played for William Tenet High his first two years and then transferred to Findlay Prep outside Las Vegas for his junior and senior seasons.

His early offer list included Temple, La Salle, Cincinnati, Oregon State, Seton Hall, West Virginia and others. He ultimately chose Bruce Pearl’s Tigers over Georgia, Seton Hall, UNLV and more, and he projects as a key piece of Pearl’s rebuilding project.


Assets


Spencer was a 6-8 freshman and remains a 6-8 senior, making him small for center. That said, his long arms and quick, explosive leaping ability enable him to play taller than his height.

Spencer’s frenetic style should win him a healthy legion of fans

He’s an excellent shotblocker from the help side who elevates to pin shots on the glass or emphatically swat them out of bounds. He poses a constant threat to penetrating guards who aren’t accustomed to that kind of quickness from a frontcourt opponent.

Spencer also runs the floor tirelessly and has become a consistent factor in transition. He scores mostly via powerful slams and also works the offensive glass for buckets and fouls. He’s not just athletically gifted, he competes feverishly and sometimes just plainly outworks his foes. Thus, he’s highly productive at times despite lacking a full arsenal of offensive moves.

He also has improved his post offense at least incrementally. He has a long way to go, but Spencer can make a turnaround halfhook shot that should serve as a nice foundation to more consistent scoring.


Deficits


Combing through my notes, the word “wild” shows up frequently. Spencer sometimes plays too fast and too aggressively, not surveying what’s in front of him but rather charging headlong into the action.

His immediate challenge at Auburn will be too become more efficient without sacrificing his workrate. That’s likely to be a process and could curtail his freshman season impact.

Additionally, as referenced above, his offense needs enhancement. Spencer sometimes fires up ill-advised, long jump shots, yet he isn’t comfortable in the post at this juncture, either.


Outlook


Spencer will need to continue adding strength — he possesses a solid frame — and rely on his youthful aggression and athleticism upon entering college. From there, he can acquire scoring tools and better pacing and decision-making as he absorbs coaching.

Don’t necessarily expect him to be a dominant performer offensively even as he matures, but do expect him to become an on-court energy source for his teammates. He also should anchor the post defensively, finish plays and generally compete to his full capabilities.

No one can know yet how far he’ll progress offensively, but already he possesses encouraging building blocks there as well. Spencer ranks No. 63 in the Class of 2015 and was a huge pickup for Auburn, which has struggled defensively out of the gate this season and may call upon him early to help issue a turnaround.


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