Chris Collins is coming up with creative ways to fill his transfer-depleted basketball roster.
Lacrosse star Pat Spencer will switch sports and play for Northwestern next season as a graduate transfer, as first reported by Jeff Goodman of Stadium. A source confirmed it, though the school can’t comment on Spencer until he signs.
Spencer last month was named winner of the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation’s best lacrosse player. After starring at Loyola Maryland for four seasons, he was drafted by two lacrosse leagues. But he is putting those aspirations on hold.
The 6-3, 205-pound Spencer last played basketball as a senior at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, averaging 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.3 steals.
One Power Five coach who saw him play in open gyms described him to the Tribune this way: “A tough, explosive athlete with winning DNA.”
Spencer is such a dominant lacrosse player, Lafayette lacrosse coach Pat Myerstold Stadiumthat calling him the LeBron James of the sport is not a reach: “His combination of size, athleticism, and technical skill make him extremely unique and special … the fact that he is considering playing college basketball speaks to his freakish athleticism. Calling him the LeBron of college lacrosse is not far-fetched; it’s a legit comparison.”
Loyola Maryland basketball coachTavaras Hardy, the former NU standout and assistant coach, told the Tribune the LeBron/lacrosse comparison is no exaggeration: “His physical stature, the way he passes and sees the field … he sees the basketball court the same way. I have not seen him play enough hoops to know exactly (how he will be next season), but he’s a worker who can really shoot. He is strong and strong with the ball.”
Cameron Spencer, Pat’s younger brother, will suit up for Hardy next season as a freshman.
The Spencer transfer makes sense for Northwestern because the program dipped to nine scholarship players — six returnees and three incoming freshmen — after five transferred over the last two seasons: Barret Benson, Aaron Falzon, Jordan Ash, Rapolas Ivanauskas and Isiah Brown.
Guard Chase Audige transferred in from William & Mary. He will practice with NU next season but won’t be eligible until 2020-21.
Spencer will be NU’s 11thscholarship player, a low-risk, potentially high-reward pickup. At the very least, NU coaches will count on him to provide leadership to a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores.
Northwestern also is in the mix for Cormac Ryan, the Stanford point guard who has entered the transfer portal.