BRISTOL - For Bristol Central boys basketball player Jaekwon Spencer, 5 a.m. has a different meaning than it may for others.
For the senior, that means it’s time to go to work.
Spencer and Rams head coach Tim Barrette have dedicated their early mornings to the Bristol Central gymnasium for Spencer to put in extra work, a testament to not only Spencer but to Barrette for being willing to come in and help Spencer work on his game.
“He’s meant a lot to me,” Spencer said of his head coach. “Him coming [into school] in the mornings at 5 o’clock and letting me get hundreds of jump shots off before school, going to see him to watch film together and him telling me the stuff that he says I need to work on, personally or picking up team, has helped greatly. He’s had a huge impact on my high school career.
It was only fitting that Barrette called a timeout after Spencer scored his 1,000th point in the Rams recent game against Hall in order for Spencer to be recognized for his accomplishment.
“The one thing I’ll say about him that people may not know is that he’s liked by all of his teachers,” Barrette said. “I have more teachers come up to me at the end of the day and say, ‘hey that Jaekwon kid is so humble. He doesn’t say much and he’s great in class.’ You can’t tell he’s a great basketball player because he carries himself. He’s a leader in the school and that’s what I’m most proud of. I’m most proud of the way he’s developed in this school and the man he’s become. He’s going to do great things at the collegiate level as well and I can’t wait to watch him play in the next four years at the collegiate level.”
Humble is a word often thrown around but Spencer embodies it.
Following his 33 point-effort and being celebrated on the floor by his coaches, teammates and the fans, the first thing on Spencer’s mind was the team and what they needed to do in order to get better, including him.
His goals are team-oriented rather than individually centric, something not every star player can say.
“It feels good to have my teammates,” Spencer said. “I moved here my freshman year and we’ve been playing together since [then] so it feels good to make this run that we expected to.”
Spencer is still aware of his future in the game and is putting in the work needed to reach the heights he wants.
“I put in a lot work,” Spencer said. “I feel like I can go as far as I want to push myself to. I just need to keep working the way I am and if it starts to get too easy then I need to push myself more.”
He moved on from playing football in order to pursue a future in his primary sport. It’s safe to say there’s a future in basketball for him beyond Bristol Central, that’s just not the first thing he’ll be thinking of when him and Barrette take the ball rack out in the morning.
“It would mean a lot more to make a run in the state tournament,” Spencer said. “Going farther than we’ve done my freshman, sophomore and junior year would feel better.”
The 1,000 point achievement entrenched Spencer in Bristol Central boys basketball history and now he will look to add state title to the top of the list for what has been a standout career from No. 25 in red.
“His 1,000th point is well deserved,” Bristol Central assistant coach Joe DeFillippi said. “Since day one he’s put the time in and taken things seriously. He’s improved every year and is putting the whole package together. I’m very happy for him, he’s a good kid.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org