05/10/05 — Barton next stop for Briggs

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Barton next stop for Briggs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 10, 2005 1:56 PM

A pick-up game convinced Spenser Briggs he belonged on the Wilson Gymnasium court at Barton College.

He missed a few shots and showed the nervousness of an incoming freshman, but he also enjoyed the teamwork displayed in the impromptu contest.

"Everybody shared the ball and no one was selfish," Briggs said. "It was fun."

Briggs talked with head men's basketball coach Ron Lievense during that time and engaged in a couple of off-the-court chats with current Bulldog players. Once those discussions ended, Briggs easily made his decision.

The Wayne Country Day senior officially signed a national letter-of-intent with the NCAA Division II school. He turned down an offer from Belmont Abbey, a conference rival of Barton, and received consideration from Emporia State (Kan.) University.

Briggs didn't relish the idea of traveling far from home.

"I like their campus and the way they run their practices," Briggs said. "The coaching staff showed a lot of support throughout the year. Coach (Lievense) asked me what I was interested in at school and told me he was impressed with how I played."

Barton lost six seniors off last year's club that finished 18-11 overall and 13-7 in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play. Lievense concentrated on recruiting guards during the offseason after losing his most-experienced backcourt to graduation.

Briggs doesn't know if he can step in and produce immediately, but his prep credentials prove he's a worthy candidate. The 6-foot shooting guard averaged 19.8 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Chargers, who advanced to the elite eight in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs.

Briggs earned a spot on the all-Coastal Plains Independent Conference squad and barely missed winning player of the year honors. When he attended the workout recently, Briggs played alongside Greenfield's Errol Frails, who grabbed the CPIC player of the year award.

"I like the way he plays, too, and we played pretty good together," said Briggs, a two-time all-state selection.

Lievense plans to send Briggs a workout that includes a daily regimen of exercise and fundamentals. Already adapted at shooting, Lievense stressed to Briggs taking at least 500 shots a day, including 3-pointers.

Briggs also realized he needs to hit the weight room, get stronger and add some muscle.

"In high school I scored a lot because I was a lot stronger than everybody else," said Briggs, who joined the school's 1,000-Point Club this season. "When you go out there and play with them, every single one of them are bigger and stronger.

"I need to work on my quickness, too."

Barton's players enjoyed Briggs' presence on the court and he admitted he did "all right" during the workouts. However, Briggs recognized that he needs to follow Lievense's guidelines if he wishes to contribute as a freshman.

He's eager to be a part of the Bulldogs' success.

Barton advanced to the NCAA Division II East Regional in 1997 and 2003. Lievense is the winningest coach in school history with 150 victories through nine seasons.