Spencer succeeds on ‘hard work and dedication’

Published 7:44 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nansemond River High School sophomore swingman Scott Spencer is still one of the young kids for the Warriors, but the first ripples of his impact on the team have already arrived.

He produced two impressive performances off the bench last week and was the lone standout against NR’s toughest opponent yet in Great Bridge. With 354 votes, he became this week’s Suffolk News-Herald’s Player of the Week.

Against Hickory, Spencer had 13 points, three rebounds and four steals. Versus Great Bridge, he scored 12 of his team-leading 16 points in the second half, adding seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals.

Nansemond River sophomore swingman Scott Spencer shined against Great Bridge, the team head coach Ed Young cites as the best in the district. Spencer had a team-leading 16 points to go with seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals. He received 231 more votes than the nearest nominee to become Player of the Week.

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A measure of the respect that Warriors head coach Ed Young has for Spencer’s ability is found in Young’s approach with him this season.

“I told him personally in a long, one-on-one session that ‘I’m going to be on you unmercifully, because you’ve got some ability in you, and I’m not going to allow you to get a big head,’” Young recalled. “‘You’re not going to get a new hat size with me. I want you to be humble with your given skills. I want you to understand you must keep working on those. God only gives you so much, the rest is on you.”

Spencer’s big sister has been his basketball role model.

“My sister played basketball,” he said. “So, when I got older, I just went to her practices.”

Spencer estimates he was four or five when he first played organized ball for a team in Virginia Beach. After this, though still quite young, Spencer grew taller and began working to elevate his game.

“When my sister was doing drills, I was trying to do the same things she was doing,” he said.

And Spencer’s sister, Brittney, was no casual player. She was a star for Ocean Lakes and received a four-year college scholarship. Earlier this year as a senior at Shaw University, she helped the team win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II women’s basketball championship.

“I’m just really, really excited and very proud of Scott,” Brittney Spencer said.

She illustrated why she’s so proud with a story of how he broke his hand at the beginning of this year.

“You would think somebody in a cast would sit and wait until their hand was healed,” she said. “Scotty was constantly in the gym, working on his left hand, working on defense, working on his legs, getting them stronger. So I feel like this moment right here, it was coming to him because of the hard work and dedication he had put in the gym beforehand.”

Spencer plans to go to college and study biomedical engineering and would like to play professional basketball.

“But if I don’t go to the NBA, I know that I have a good job to fall back on,” Spencer said. “That’s what my parents say. They push education first. They say, ‘Student-athlete, not athlete-student.’”

Young just hopes he will have all of Spencer’s remaining years as a high school student-athlete to enjoy coaching him.

“In this day and age, sometimes you get the good, young kids, and they want to hurry up and get success, and they sometimes move elsewhere,” Young said. “I hope we don’t lose this kid. I want to coach this kid when he’s a senior, because he’s going to be very good. He potentially could be a (Division I) player. If he increases his handles and his focus, he could easily be one.”

As for this season, Spencer declared a goal, then upped the ante, revealing a familiar plan to make it happen.

“I want to be first-team all-district as a sophomore,” he said. “Actually, I would like to be first team all-state, but I just got to keep working, keep getting to the gym.”