The 2008 graduate of Wheelersburg High School has played in 23 games for the Phoenix this year, after a productive high school career filled with highlights and accolades.
Spradlin was a two-sport star in high school, leading the Pirates basketball and football teams.
His senior year, Spradlin was a First Team All-Ohio selection as the quarterback of the Pirates. He led Wheelersburg to an 8-4 record on the year, and steered the team into the regional semifinals.
Though successful on the gridiron, Spradlin knew he belonged on the hardwood.
"I played football at Wheelersburg because everyone plays football at Wheelersburg," Spradlin said. "As I kept playing, I got better and it became really enjoyable. I even got a lot of attention (from colleges) my senior year for football. But I was always a basketball player playing football."
Spradlin excelled on the basketball court at a young age and found himself in the starting lineup for Wheelersburg by the end of his freshman season.
The next two years, Spradlin would start for Pirate teams that made runs to the Division III state final four, falling short of the state title game each year.
The forward scored 14 points in each of those games, including two free throws that would have forced overtime in 2007 before North College Hill broke the Pirates' hearts with a buzzer-beating 3.
"My junior year, that was tough," Spradlin said. "That was something I'll probably never forget. I still feel like we should have won that game and then who knows what happens? But yeah, my junior year was tough."
After that game, the Pirates graduated a number of key players including center Cam Miller, who should see action at Marshall next season.
Instead of re-building, the Pirates re-loaded with Spradlin shouldering a larger portion of the load.
"We graduated some really good kids when he was a junior, and he really elevated his game as a senior," Wheelersburg head coach Tom Barrick said. "He really stepped into a leadership role for us and obviously was one of our key players. He was our go-to guy in scoring. He made a ton of big baskets for us and was a clutch player in high school."
With Spradlin leading the way scoring 20 points and pulling down six rebounds per contest, the Pirates finished No. 6 the Division III state rankings.
The Pirates advanced to the regional semifinals before getting knocked off by Columbus Bishop Ready 48-46 in the last game of Spradlin's high school career.
"Not a lot of people expected a whole lot out of us and we just really over-achieved," Spradlin said. "We had some great athletes on that team and guys who really cared about each other and played for each other. That last game was tough. It's tough for everybody. But I feel like we had a great season my senior year."
Always able to put things into perspective, Spradlin talked about the tough losses in three consecutive years of regional or state basketball games.
"I guess only one team ends their season with a win every year," he said. "Coach Barrick used to always say that. Not a lot of people end their season happily. If you play enough basketball, you're going to lose some heartbreakers."
Through all the battles, wins and losses, Spradlin blossomed as a player, becoming more than just a shooter as he led the Pirates to an 84-13 mark in those four years.
"The thing he probably developed the most was his perimeter game, and not just his shooting," Barrick said. "He was always a good shooter. Obviously he matured over those four years — physical maturity. With his physical maturity, he also matured as a player: leadership, ball handling, being able to play perimeter positions, things like that. He developed quite a bit over his four years."
Spradlin was a McDonald's All-American nominee, and first team All-Ohio selection in basketball, helping to attract Elon University in Elon N.C.
The Phoenix were in need of a talented wing player, and Spradlin fit the bill.
"Drew is very well schooled in how to play without the ball and how to guard," Elon head coach Ernie Nestor said. "Our recruiting is driven by what we envision our needs to be and Drew fit very nicely into a wing guard with very good basketball intellect and excellent perimeter shooting."
As well as Spradlin fit what Elon was looking for, the school fit Spradlin equally well.
"I like their style," Spradlin said. "To be honest, it just seemed like a university that did things the right way, and a basketball team that did things the right way. They did a lot of what I was used to with Coach Barrick and Wheelersburg so I was attracted to the similarities."
Spradlin came as advertised, scoring 27 points in his first three contests, making 8 of 14 3-pointers. He is averaging 4.2 points with 12.2 minutes of action per game. Spradlin is shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc for the Phoenix.
"The Southern Conference that he plays in is a pretty well-respected conference," Barrick said. "Obviously you get some national limelight this year because of Davidson going so far in the NCAA Tournament... (The SoCon) is a good Division I mid-major conference."
Aside from an injury that sidelined Spradlin for a week and cost him a pair of games, the freshman has developed well. He has averaged 6.7 points in Elon's last three contests, and is becoming a more reliable player for the Phoenix.
"He is playing his best basketball of the season at this time and has shown an ability to make the necessary adjustments to college basketball," Nestor said. "Drew had the benefit of outstanding high school coaching and was well prepared on the defensive end which is not always the case."
Spradlin, who likened the early part of his collegiate career to a roller coaster, expects to settle into a more consistent role in the future.
"It's been an up and down type of thing for me and I think it's hard to find that consistency at this level," he said. "I think I will get better at that and be able to make adjustments to the way people guard you. If you have a couple big games shooting the ball, people scout and you're not going to be open the next couple games like that."
Though not with him every day to monitor and guide his former player, Barrick keeps an eye on Spradlin's progression.
Barrick was able to watch Elon's opener at West Virginia, and has tried to keep up with his games while guiding the team at Wheelersburg.
"(I've looked at) his box scores and E-mailed him a couple times," Barrick said. "I haven't had an opportunity to see him a whole lot because of our season. You go back to low man on the totem pole as a freshman, like he did as a freshman in high school. But having the opportunity to be playing as much as what he is as a true freshman is pretty good at the Division I level."
For Spradlin, this is just the beginning of what he expects to be a very productive career at Elon. The Phoenix will graduate their top two scorers and their best shooter from beyond the arc this season.
"I hope that people can expect someone who will show up every day," Spradlin said. "As I get older, I hope I can follow in the footsteps of some of the older guys here who are trying to teach me the right way to do it. Hopefully I can be a consistent and productive player in this program and get us to where we want to go."
CHRIS DUNHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org