Auburn basketball's Horace Spencer returns: 'We made history'

While playing professionally overseas, one of the leaders of Auburn's 2019 Final Four team returns to the Plains to complete his Auburn University degree and reflect on a magical season

by Jeff Shearer

Horace Spencer

AUBURN, Ala.  In the five years since he helped Auburn advance to the Final Four, Horace Spencer has put his passport to good use while playing professionally in Argentina, Turkey, France and Finland.

Knee surgery last season temporarily slowed Spencer’s globetrotting, allowing Horace to return to Auburn University to complete his degree and graduate on Aug. 3

“I’ve got a lot more basketball in me,” he said. “I’m not ready to give it up yet. I’m only 27.”

A consensus top 100 recruit from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 6-8 Spencer played four seasons for Auburn from 2015-19, concluding his career with a pair of SEC titles and a magical NCAA Tournament run.

To become the first team from the state of Alabama to reach the Final Four, Auburn defeated Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky in an eight-day span in March 2019.  

“A hard road,” Spencer said. “We played all blue bloods. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to get there. It takes a lot of sacrifices to get there.”

At Auburn, Spencer focused on defense, rebounding and physicality before playing a larger role on offense as a pro.

“We gave up a lot,” he said. “You’ve got to sacrifice your game to what fits the team. That’s the sacrifice you have to make if you want to win.”

Win they did. An SEC regular season championship in 2018, Spencer’s junior season, then a program-record 30 victories, including the 2019 SEC Tournament championship leading up to the Final Four.

033119_mbb__wr_1081Tiger Walk, March 2019

Spencer fondly recalls reverse Tigers Walks during the Tigers’ March Madness run, along with a pep rally when the team returned from Minneapolis after losing to Virginia by one point in the national semifinals.

“My favorite memory was when we got back from the Final Four,” he said. “Everybody was still cheering us on for going to the Final Four, everybody was showing us love.

“The emotions that I had, and my teammates had, were, ‘Wow, we really did something. We made history, not just for ourselves but for the entire Auburn campus.’ That memory will never go away. I’ll never forget the emotions I had.”

While spending time on campus this summer, Horace showed his sons the trophies he helped Auburn earn.  

A regular at Neville Arena as a toddler, now 7-year-old Avery Spencer and younger brother Caleb get to see where their dad was once the Big Man on Campus.

“To be able to come back, walk around and think, ‘Wow, I played here,’” Spencer reflected. “I helped build this with my blood, sweat and tears and fashioned my own legacy.”

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer

032319_mbb__wr_10024Horace Spencer 
Men’s Basketball - Auburn vs. Kansas during the second round the NCAA Tournament on March 23, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah.