By Kevin Sweeney
If you had told someone Northwestern would have a Tewaaraton Award winner on campus in the fall, they’d probably make a comment about Kelly Amonte Hiller’s recruiting prowess.
Instead, it’s Chris Collins and the men’s basketball program making an unorthodox move in hopes of adding talent to next season’s roster. Jeff Goodman reported Thursday morning that Pat Spencer, the 2019 Tewaaraton Award winner at Loyola (MD), will use the graduate transfer option to spend his final year of collegiate athletics eligibility playing basketball at Northwestern.
Spencer had plenty of professional lacrosse options on the table, including being selected #1 overall in the Premier Lacrosse League Draft, but has elected to put his career on hold to spend a season playing hoops in Evanston.
NCAA rules allow a player a fifth year of competition in a different sport, which affords Spencer an extra year of eligibility after playing four years with the Greyhounds. Two notable examples of previous athletes doing this are Greg Paulus, who played basketball for four years at Duke before playing football for a year at Syracuse, and Chris Hogan, who played lacrosse at Penn State before transitioning to football at Monmouth. Paulus was the starting quarterback for the Orange, and Hogan established himself as an NFL wide receiver who has seen plenty of success catching passes from Tom Brady for the New England Patriots.
Spencer was a very successful basketball player for The Boy’s Latin School of Maryland. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game in his senior year, per an article written by Goodman in May about Spencer. He was named to the Baltimore Sun’s Second Team All-Metro as a senior in basketball, despite it being his second sport. He was joined on that team by Justin Jenifer (Cincinnati), DaQuan Bracey (Louisiana Tech), Keandre Cook (Missouri State), Gary Blackston (Prairie View A&M), and Isaiah White (Maine), among others.
While Spencer hasn’t played competitive basketball since, but has impressed in summer league action back home in the Baltimore area. He is reportedly an explosive athlete who consistently holds his own against former pros in the summer league setting.
A D1 player I spoke with who recently saw Spencer play said Spencer “definitely can play at a high-major program.” The source described Spencer as a “very good” player who is tough, an excellent passer, and “athletic as sh*t.”
At 6-3, 205 pounds, Spencer has good size for the point guard position and is physically gifted enough to be deployed off the ball as well. For a team with question marks in the backcourt and plenty of scholarships available, this seems like the perfect one-year risk for Chris Collins to take. A player with Spencer’s athleticism doesn’t come around every day, and even if he doesn’t pan out the scholarship is back open in a year.
This story will be updated once more information is available. Neither Collins nor the Northwestern athletic department can comment on recruits who haven’t been officially signed, and a request for comment from Spencer has yet to be returned.