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Philly native Horace Spencer continues to thrive away from home

08/29/2023, 11:00am EDT
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Horace Spencer grew up playing basketball in Philadelphia.

Even during his first two high school seasons at William Tennent in Warminster, the forward — then already 6-foot-8 and ranked one of the top players in the country — would head into the city to play with and against the rest of the area’s best.

Spencer packed his bags for Henderson, Nev. after his sophomore season at Tennent, heading to Findlay Prep to continue his basketball career. Other stops have included Auburn then overseas to Argentina, Turkey and France. 

For the first time in a long time, the area’s one-time phenom returned to Philly for the Rumph Classic earlier this summer.

“It felt good to be back home, bro,” the 27-year-old Spencer told CoBL earlier this month. “Nobody really knows me like that since I’ve been away, Las Vegas, Auburn. Nobody really knows me like that, so it’s nice to get my name out there a little bit.”

Horace Spencer, right, attempts to block a shot at the Rumph Classic earlier this summer. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Spencer was one of THE names to know around the country, ranked as the top player in his class by some even before suiting up at the high school level. He had all the blue bloods checking in early, but decided to spend his first two seasons at home at Tennent — even receiving a signing day of sorts from the school.

After averaging a near double-double as a freshman and 20 ppg and 7 rpg as a sophomore at Tennent, however, it was time for a new challenge. He packed his bags for powerhouse Findlay Prep, where he shared the court with current Charlotte Hornet forward P.J. Washington and a number of other nationally ranked recruits..

“Me leaving Tennent was probably the best thing for my career because Tennent basketball wasn’t high-level,” said Spencer, who currently calls Philadelphia home. “Me going to Vegas and playing against other professional players and people who are going to the NBA and overseas, it made my game jump to another level where I’m able to play in tournaments like this one where I come back home and I can hold my own..”

Spencer entered Auburn in 2015 as a four-star, Top 100 recruit and the 6-foot-9 forward played in 124 games (45 starts) in four seasons, averaging 4.7 ppg and 4.4 rpg throughout his career. 

One of his favorite memories is having the fans storm the court at Auburn Arena after an upset win over Kentucky during his freshman season. His Tigers teams won an SEC regular season championship in 2017-18 and won the league tournament title during his senior season in 2018-19, helping the team to the Final Four alongside fellow Philly native Samir Doughty.

“Auburn was great. My last two seasons, winning championships, I had nothing but positive things to say about college,” Spencer said. “I would love to go back to Auburn. I want to go back to Auburn every year during the summer time and show my face. Playing at Auburn, was a memory, milestone, check mark off my goals.”

It took some time for Spencer to add another championship to his career. He started his professional career at Atenas in Argentina’s top league then played for Kocaeli BSB Kagitspor in the Turkey Basketball League. Spencer spent his next season at Limoges in France’s Betclic Elite before returning to Turkey last season where his Cagdas Bodrum Spor won the TBL title.

“I was a champion before I left college so being a champion as a professional is an even bigger milestone for me,” Spencer said. “Not many guys can say that.”

Spencer is adding a fourth country to his list of stops this season as he’ll suit up for Kauhajoki Karhu Basket, a member of Finland’s top league and FIBA Europe Cup. He’s been practicing with his new team for a few weeks already.

“I’m still probably the same athletic power forward kind of player, high-flyer, rebounder, shot-blocker,” Spencer said. “I’m trying to transition my game more to offense, so face-up, midrange, pull-up jumper. I’ve got that but it’s hard to be able to be in the position to do it.”

Spencer has enjoyed his career thus far. He has plenty of practice at being away from home. He would like to return to the U.S. at some point during his career though and achieve the dream he and plenty of others have when they pick up a ball for the first time.

“Honestly, I’m not exactly happy where I’m at in my life because everybody’s dream is to be in the NBA,” Spencer said. “But I can say this, I could be a lot worse off. I’m proud of myself. I’m happy where I’m at. I’m not satisfied, but I’m happy and I got a lot more work to do. I still have a chance to make it to the NBA and I’m going to keep on pushing for it.”

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