Nicole Spencer, the Carroll County Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season, said yesterday she will enroll at Brigham Young University this fall and attempt to make the women's basketball team as a walk-on.
"I have a chance, good enough to pursue a spot on the team," said Spencer, a 5-foot-9 senior from South Carroll who had the best game of her four-year career with 33 points and 15 rebounds in a 62-42 victory over Westminster Tuesday.
"If I can play every game like I did Tuesday, I think I make it at BYU. I know I'm going to have to work hard because, at my height, I'm not going to be able to play inside like I do in high school. I'll have to be a small forward or shooting guard."
Spencer has been accepted by the Provo, Utah, school and will major in design. She makes her own clothes and has been seriously interested in attending BYU since the seventh grade.
"They have a really good design program and I have friends who go there," she said. "I spent 12 days out there and liked it, especially the mountains and the climate. It's a change from being on the East Coast."
Her father, Dave Spencer, who was a basketball standout at Mount Airy High and attends every game his daughter plays, said it has been Nicole's lifelong dream to go to Brigham Young.
"At first, she was just going to go there for academics and not try to play basketball, but I think she changed her mind after the kind of season she is having this year," he said.
Spencer is averaging 16 points and 10.6 rebounds for the No. 8 Cavaliers (12-1).
Dave Spencer said his daughter will have to "move her game up a couple of notches, become more devoted and focused" to play for the Cougars.
"If she puts her mind to it, she can do it," he said. "We've talked about this dedication many times before. Maybe now, after Tuesday night, it has all come together. It was the best she has ever played."
It was not just the statistics that told the story for Spencer against a strong Westminster team, it was the way she dominated the game inside with her intensity, aggressiveness and willingness to take the ball to the basket.
Spencer said she has not contacted head BYU women's coach Soni Adams, preferring to wait until her senior season is over to send newspaper clippings and videotapes of her in action. The Cougars' women's team is 5-9.
"I'll be talking to the BYU coaches soon," she said. "I'm also working on getting other scholarships, in addition to the possibility of a basketball scholarship."
Spencer said South Carroll coach Al Skierski received some calls from the University of Maryland about her possibly playing for the Terps, and she considered almost all the other state schools, such as UMBC and Western Maryland.
"But I never replied to Maryland because I really only wanted to go to Brigham Young," said Spencer.
Even though Spencer probably could start at several smaller Division I schools, or at a Division II or III school, her father said she made a "good decision."
"She'll get a quality education, the environment is good and the college atmosphere is good," he said.