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Spruill shifts course of his basketball future


Pender High School’s Addison Spruill had to make some adjustments to his plans for playing basketball after high school. (Photo by StarNews file photo )


As humans, we are susceptible to making mistakes. But with mistakes come opportunity, an opportunity to pick ourselves up, learn and grow as students of life. Whether it is on a team or in the classroom, we all deserve a second chance. Former Pender High School basketball player Addison Spruill is making the most of his.

With success on the court, came outside distractions for Spruill. He fell behind in the classroom.  “Earlier in my high school career, I didn’t take school seriously,” said Spruill. “When I started getting recruited in my junior year, coaches told me that my grades weren’t good enough. By that time, I was in too big of a hole.”

Despite leading Pender to the Eastern Regional championship and clearly being talented enough to play for college basketball, Spruill was forced to put his dreams of playing on the Division I level on hold.

If he wanted to get back on track, he had to get serious in the classroom and improve his grades.

Taking a step back to go forward, Spruill committed to Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla.

Playing for and attending a junior college may not have been what the standout forward wanted, but this was Spruill’s second chance; a chance to rehabilitate his future, enabling him to improve his academic eligibility while also serving as an opportunity to progress on the basketball court.

“It was kind of hard at first to accept,” said Spruill. “But when I got to school, I realized this was a great opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it. Even before the season started, I realized this was good for me.”

Knowing changes were necessary, Spruill initiated lifestyle changes.

Through guidance from his high school coach, he began to surround himself with positive people to stimulate accountability and a focus on building himself as a prosperous student-athlete.

“I told him that the first thing you have to be is a student,” said Pender coach Gary Battle. “A student-athlete. People will try to bring you down. When you have the gift he has, he has to carry himself a little differently. When they’re out, you need to be studying and in the gym. You’re going to make mistakes, but you have to keep working. He’s worked really hard to become a student-athlete and the future is really bright for him.”

Spruill receives help from tutors and attends daily team study hall sessions.

Having put in the work, he improved his grade point average, making himself academically eligible and attractive to Division I programs.

Though his detour through Florida was due to his performance in the classroom, it provided Spruill an opportunity to improve on the court as well.

“I have a lot stronger all-around game,” said Spruill. “I’ve made a big jump from last year to this year. Coach is really helping me. Schools want me to come in and be a scorer, and he’s given me the opportunity to showcase my ability as a scorer this season.”

Through his sophomore season, Spruill is shooting 52 percent from the field, averaging 21 points and six rebounds per game for the Titans.

 He’s being recruited by a number of Division I programs, including teams from BCS conferences.

“I want to go somewhere that I fit in,” said Spruill. “I want to go and feel at home, somewhere that they need me. I want to contribute.”

Though his journey was temporarily impeded, Spruill is back on track.

The road through Cocoa has helped Spruill realize his potential and evolve into a more mature, student-first-athlete.

“It feels great that my grades are not holding me back,” said Spruill. “I now know what it takes to be a college basketball player. I’ve learned that if I work hard and get my grades, I can go real far. And I’m just getting started.”