When UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley meets with recruits, certain criteria immediately start to stick out. In Cam Spencer’s case, Hurley said some simple conversations about basketball really stuck out to him in some of his initial talks.
“90% of what we talked about was about, at the time, the NBA Playoffs, our season, different players, or style of play,” said the Huskies head coach.
With a player as gifted as Spencer, it’s no secret that as soon as word spread throughout college basketball that the former Rutgers star would enter the transfer portal for a new home, interest is immediately going to rise. Being a proven scorer with a deadly shot that can take the life out of opponents is always going to be enticing to programs looking to compete in a competitive basketball environment. When that exact player is doing it in a competitive league like the Big 10, that only adds more fuel to the rising interest of teams across the nation.
So naturally, with those previously mentioned traits and a need for another player who could come in to contribute to a program coming off a dominant national championship run in 2023, the Huskies targeted a Spencer commitment.
“When you do official visits with recruits, you know the ones that you want and you know the ones that are going to fit in. They know whether they fit in with you or not. So when [Spencer] was here on a visit, he felt like he was already here on the team,” said Hurley.
Along with coming from an obsessive basketball family, a key trait from Husky recruits, Hurley says that for his newest prized transfer, basketball is his life. That attitude has helped energize a competitive drive that has been essential in helping the veteran college basketball guard transition to a unique situation. He’d be competing in some tough Hurley-led practices, known for being tougher than the actual games, against players looking to prove themselves. In situations like that, players have to step up to the challenge, especially with a championship culture like Connecticut’s and a loaded schedule that features teams like Kansas in non-conference action and Marquette in Big East play.
Yet, throughout these past few months of adjustment, Spencer has embraced those challenges wholeheartedly, with a complicated gameplan being one of those tests. According to the new star transfer, it’s a path where you’re thrown into the fire. It could certainly be filled with mistakes and hours in the film room if you can’t adapt, but with the team putting in time to perfect every area of their game, it’s a situation that rewards the relentless competitiveness and effort of players like a veteran Spencer.
That attitude to compete in every single practice has also rubbed off on his teammates. With plenty of young pieces entering a program that’s hungry for a sixth championship, players like returning starter Tristen Newton say that having a player with plenty of experience like his backcourt partner has been very beneficial, especially in a leadership position.
“He’s helping us a lot on the court,” said Newton. “He’s a good vocal leader. He helps the freshmen out a lot and he helps me out too.”
“He’ll make you go crazy out there on the court with the way he plays and how smart he is on the basketball court. He doesn’t get enough credit for that,” said senior Hassan Diarra. “It’s truly a blessing to compete against him each and every day, and play with him. He makes basketball easy for me.”
Even with all the work he’s put in to get to this point, it’s still a long road ahead for the Maryland native. He’s has continued to get better defensively, improving key qualities like his lateral quickness, and upgrading his playmaking. His unique skill has certainly been on display throughout his short time in Storrs, but at the end of the day, Spencer is looking forward to helping the team in any way he can.