Former Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer, who spent the 2019-20 school year playing basketball at Northwestern, says he’s “all in” on pursuing hoops professionally because basketball is his first love.
The list of accomplishments for Spencer as a lacrosse player is long. A native of Davidsonville, Md., Spencer is the all-time Division I assist leader with 231 and is second all time in points with 380. He’s also second in Loyola history in goals scored with 149. He won the Tewaaraton Award in 2019 as the best men’s player in college lacrosse. During his four years with Loyola (2016-2019), Spencer led the Greyhounds to a 49-19 record, four NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four appearance.
Spencer was selected No. 1 overall by Archers LC in the 2019 Premier Lacrosse League draft and No. 7 overall by the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the 2019 Major League Lacrosse draft. Instead of continuing his lacrosse career, he attended Northwestern as a graduate transfer to play hoops. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Spencer started 29 of 31 games, averaging 10.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists for the Wildcats.
Now, Spencer is pursuing basketball professionally instead of lacrosse. He recently signed with Tandem Sports and Entertainment to help him achieve those goals.
“I’m all in. I signed with an incredible agency who has unbelievable connections and a great team. I’m excited to have that power behind me, and I’m all in,” Spencer said on Glenn Clark Radio May 20. “I think whatever it takes, this year is going to be a big year for me developing. I’m 23 right now, so I need to develop quicker than maybe an 18 year old, but at the same time I feel like the blueprint is there for me to do that. I’m all in.”
Spencer starred in basketball and lacrosse at Boys’ Latin in Baltimore. He said that when he helped lead Boys’ Latin’s basketball team to the MIAA B Conference title in 2015, he had an “eerie feeling” that he wasn’t done playing basketball. He briefly thought about trying to play both sports at Loyola, but the overlap in basketball and lacrosse schedules made that impossible.
But Spencer said he knew he was going to pursue basketball long term by the time he was a junior at Loyola. He stayed sharp on the basketball court by playing in the Annapolis Summer League in Truxton Park and the Brunson League in Baltimore. Once he fulfilled his commitment to Loyola and lacrosse coach Charley Toomey, he decided to give basketball a go.
“I’m a believer that when you have a love for something, you have to go after it,” Spencer said. “So for me it’s really easy to go after basketball. … Not that I don’t love lacrosse, it’s just basketball is just my first love and it’s something that I want to spend all my time doing.”
At Northwestern, Spencer showed off the same traits he had as a lacrosse player: a combination of athleticism, toughness and playmaking ability:
However, one area of his game that showed some rust was his outside shooting. He shot just 23.5 percent from 3-point range, something he’s diligently working to fix. He said he’s been shooting about 250 threes a day in recent weeks.
“It’s unfortunate I don’t have another year to prove myself and to grow my game at the college level, but that’s what the next step is for me professionally,” Spencer said. “I feel like I gained a lot of solid information this year on how to improve my game. The three is definitely something I need to work on, so I’ve been putting a lot of time into that. I feel like I’m heading down the right road.”
The NBA recently postponed the Draft Lottery and Combine, events that were originally scheduled for May, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league hasn’t formally postponed the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 25, but those details figure to be addressed once the league determines if and how the season will restart this summer.
Thus, the timeline for this year’s draft process is unclear. Should Spencer go undrafted, he’ll have to sort through some other potential options, like playing in the NBA G League or playing overseas.
“Wherever it takes for me to go this year to play and develop, I’m happy to do it,” Spencer said. “I feel like there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for me to do so, so I’m excited.”
If basketball doesn’t work out, would Spencer consider playing lacrosse professionally?
“I haven’t thought about failing, to be honest,” Spencer said. “That’s not my thought process. I don’t think like that, so I take it year by year. This year, I have a lot of things I want to work on. I’m confident in my ability to grow my game and continue to develop. Down the line is out of the picture. My goal right now and my main focus is basketball. I’m going to ride that wave and ride it the best that I can.”
For more from Spencer, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Hope Carpinello/Northwestern Athletics