GARLAND, Texas — Go right ahead.
Tell Elizabeth Spencer she can’t accomplish something about which set her focus and chances are, she will prove her doubters wrong.
That certainly has turned out to be the case for the Lakeview Centennial High (located in Garland, Texas) combo guard.
A 5-foot-7 senior, Spencer has gone to great lengths to not only demonstrate she has the athletic smarts and poise to play major prep basketball but, given the continuous strides she has made in recent years, she undoubtedly has made a strong case that she could wound up putting her talents on display at the collegiate ranks around this time next year.
What was that about her not possessing the mechanics to engage in major high school hoops?
“In the ninth grade, she was told she wasn’t good enough to be on (junior varsity) or varsity like most of her teammates,” explained Elizabeth’s father, Allen Spencer, during an interview earlier this week with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “That ignited a fire in her. She never talks about it, but it really upset her.”
So perplexed was Elizabeth Spencer — widely known as “Liz” — in the wake of being underestimated, thus witnessing her skills go virtually unnoticed time and again that at times, she was ultimately brought to tears.
“She cried and dedicated herself,” Allen Spencer said. “She feels like she has something to prove all the time. I think that’s why she plays defense the way she does. She doesn’t want anyone to score on her.”
In addition to evolving as a player who has built a reputation as a solid defender, Liz has progressed mightily in that she has improved her offensive efficiency, a key attribute about which she realizes scouts will monitor as she continues to lobby for an athletic scholarship.
During what was a productive junior campaign, Liz Spencer was the catalyst of a Lakeview Centennial team that won 10 of their last 14 outings en route to a 22-8 finish.
The Patriots (2-2) played at Rowlett (Texas) High Friday night.
One of seven Lakeview Centennial seniors, Liz Spencer acknowledges that last year was by far her best, considering she enjoyed success on both ends of the floor.
For her efforts as the team’s featured player, a number of colleges have taken into account her resiliency and assertiveness, particularly during what essentially was a breakthrough campaign.
In a nutshell, Liz was nothing short of impressive, particularly after a few years removed from being told time and again that she would never find her niche on a varsity basketball stage.
If that’s not enough to silence critics, she’s also starting to have fun on the hardwood.
“You will hardly ever catch me without a smile on my face,” Liz said. “I love people and I’m about my business on the court. I don’t take losing very well. I take basketball very seriously.”
So much, in fact, that along with her inability to emerge as an offensive threat, she has greatly enhanced her conditioning sessions.
“I work out every day and I try to make time before or after practice to work on (my fundamentals) by myself.”
To her credit, several colleges have inquired about Liz, Lakeview Centennial coach Laura Holmes said on Friday before her team’s game on the road.
“She’s bloomed really late (in her prep tenure),” said Holmes, adding that the best possible route for her standout guard is to take the junior college route. “She’s really starting to develop her skills set. “We’ve had had several schools to call about her, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from these schools that are interested in her.
“Liz is just athletic, elusive,” Holmes continued. “She’s an aggressive slasher to the basket and one of the fastest kids I’ve ever coached. She’s one of our most prolific players as far as her ability to score. She’s our little engine whereas when she’s on, we’re on as a unit.”
All of which is why those who have followed her basketball prowess over the years believe she has what it takes to play at the collegiate level.
“I want whomever I play for to know that I won’t let them down,” said Liz, when asked what she’d like to say to college scouts. “As long as they have my back, I’ll have theirs. There’s no doubt about it.”
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.