The Wheelersburg senior signed his national letter of intent to play college basketball at Elon University, a member of the Southern Conference, on Wednesday. Spradlin is the fourth SOC player to make the transition to the Southern Conference in the last three years, joining former teammate Camden Miller and South Webster's Nick Aldridge and Brigham Waginger, all of whom went to Western Carolina.
The Phoenix' burgeoning athletic program and high academic standards attracted Spradlin to the school, making his decision easy.
“The balance (between athletics and academics) was important,” said Spradlin. “I am going there to go to school. I am going to play basketball, but the most important thing is the education you get while you are there. At the same time, I wanted to play the best level of basketball I could and I thought that Elon's program, in the next several years, was going to make some real noise in the Southern Conference.”
Including this season, the 6-foot-5 Spradlin will be a four-year starter for the Pirates, and has been a vital part to the team's success. Averaging 15 points his sophomore year and 17 his junior, Spradlin helped Wheelersburg to back-to-back appearances in the Division III Final Four. He was also a member of the West Virginia Select, an AAU squad that finished fifth in the nation in 2006.
Academically, Spradlin ranks second in his class, is a member of the National Honor Society and maintains a 3.9 GPA.
“It is a great fit for Drew, because of their very high academic standards,” said Wheelersburg coach Tom Barrick. “Drew is an outstanding student. Not only was he concerned with the academic setting, but he was also concerned with the basketball setting as well. He is getting a chance to play Division I basketball, and getting a chance to play at a place that has high academic standards.”
Based on his performances, both in the classroom and on the court, Barrick is confident that Spradlin's time at Elon will be a successful one.
“At each level, there is a huge step up in speed and strength, from junior high to high school and on to college,” said Barrick, “but if past history is any indication of his success at the college level, he is going to work extremely hard to give himself a great chance to be successful.”
While the academic setting is just what Spradlin wanted, the chance to play in the Southern Conference, especially against former teammate Miller, intrigues him.
“It is going to be fun,” he said. “It's a bonus. It didn't have anything to do with the decision, but it is a bonus. Cam and I, I am sure we are going to be competing, like we always have. It should be fun. I hope to beat him.”
JOSH HICKLE can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 241.