AU Mens Basketball 6-29

Horace Spencer dunks the ball against Florida on Feb. 5, 2019. Since Auburn fans last saw him, Spencer played the winter season with the pro team Atenas in Argentina, and this weekend sees his first big opportunity in the spotlight stateside to prove himself with War Tampa in The Basketball Tournament.

Horace Spencer was already a grown man the last time he took off the orange and blue, but he has seen more of the world since then.

The former Auburn big-man already had shoulders like boulders and the wisdom of a father when he played his last game with the Tigers at the Final Four in 2019, but even still, he has surely learned a little more going overseas and playing a season abroad in Argentina last winter.

Now back in the spotlight stateside for the first time since then, Spencer can show how he has grown and will join plenty of players with plenty to prove when The Basketball Tournament tips off July 4 and War Tampa takes on House of ’Paign in the first round.

Spencer played pro basketball with the club Atenas in Córdoba, Argentina from November to March, averaging a double-double in the country’s top-tier basketball league. Spencer averaged 13.7 points per game and 11.6 rebounds per game in 25 games with the team.

At Auburn, he became a fan favorite logging workman-like minutes, using a raw power and an ugly effort which Bruce Pearl’s relied on for years and which helped bring the Tigers to the mountaintop and to that Final Four in Minneapolis at the end of his senior season.

Now he’s bringing those skills to War Tampa and to TBT, and all things considered, the opportunity offers Spencer his chance to impress and prolong his pro career that much further.

“You know everyone this year is going to be watching,” War Tampa general manager Matt Moschella said last week, as Spencer and the rest of the team geared up to travel to the in-quarantine tournament in Ohio. “This year in particular, this is probably the best exposure for any of these guys that they’ll probably get this year.”

Sports-starved fans — and scouts alike, surely — are set to tune in to the tournament which ESPN in previous years has aired on its broader family of networks, placing some games on the app or on expanded cable packages. This year, it’s scheduled to be broadcast completely on ESPN or ESPN2, as it has marked a seemingly safe and manageable return for basketball for the first time since shutdowns began and a chance to watch hoops well before the NBA tries to restart much later this month.

Spencer and the other War Tampa players took at-home virus tests last week and after traveling to Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, they are set to be tested for the virus again today. Those that are cleared will enter the bubble to play out the 24-team single-elimination tournament there from July 4-14 — marking a return for organized basketball to the national stage since that week in March when the sports world stopped as Auburn’s current team was gearing up for the SEC Tournament.

For Spencer, it’s also the chance to wear orange and blue on the court again, as War Tampa embraces the Auburns fans who have embraced the team.

War Tampa and House of ’Paign will tip off in the third of four games scheduled for July 4, though tipoff times and broadcast information has yet to be announced.

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