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Pat Spencer to Play Pro Hoops, Not Lacrosse

Spencer spent his final collegiate season at Northwestern

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Former Northwestern guard Pat Spencer will officially pursue a professional basketball career after signing with Tandem Sports and Entertainment Agency. The agency announced via Twitter last week that he is foregoing a pro lacrosse career, for now. Tandem is a well-known agency in the basketball community, representing Ja Morant, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, and Dominique Wilkins, among others.

This move for Spencer was a little surprising, being that he is revered as one of the best college lacrosse players in quite some time. He played four years at national power Loyola Marymount, earning First-Team All-American honors three times, including the Tewaaraton Award (national player of the year) in 2019. He was subsequently drafted seventh overall in the Major League Lacrosse draft, as well as first overall in the Premier Lacrosse League’s draft last year. Nonetheless, Spencer described basketball as his first love, despite all of the accolades in lacrosse.

Economic factors were surely at play for Spencer, beyond his affinity for the hardwood. He can most likely make a better living playing basketball overseas than he would’ve earned in pro lacrosse. The Premier Lacrosse League is a recent start-up by Paul Rabil, which has a reported average annual salary around $30-35k, plus health insurance and other benefits.

The PLL has quickly become more advantageous for the players to join because of its commitment to re-investing in the players. For example, the MLL does not offer its players health insurance. Regardless, Spencer will have an opportunity to make more money playing professional basketball. The flat-rate for G League players is $35k plus incentives, and the added possibility of earning an NBA roster spot. If Spencer were to take his talents overseas, his salary could be even more. Also, if Spencer ultimately decides to make a comeback to lacrosse, it’s likely that one of the MLL or PLL would welcome him with open arms given his proven track record.

During his one year playing hoops with the Wildcats, Spencer showed that he could hang with some of the best athletes in college basketball even after taking four years off from the sport. He had the type of competitive drive that allowed his game to add up to more than just the sum of its parts. He became a focal point of the offense, averaging 10.4 ppg and 3.9 apg, despite not being a threat from deep. Wherever Spencer winds up 10 years from now, he’s the kind of guy that you just bet on to figure it out and be successful.