Playing at his new school, Uplift wing forward Spencer Foley rarely expresses outright emotion. A baseline drive that ends with his shot curling off the rim or a 3-pointer from the right wing he buries, Foley hardly reacts.
He just plays. He contributes to the Titans’ victory over Lane by breaking a late tie with a layup and then recording a steal that yields a crucial 3-pointer.
Uplift is an ascendant program in the Public League. The Titans captured a major Thanksgiving tournament, went undefeated in conference, reached the quarterfinals of the Public League tournament and advanced to a Class 3A sectional semifinal last year.
Expectations are high. Coach David Taylor returns four starters and five of his top seven players from a 24-win team. Foley is the great unknown. Foley was interested to play a different part, sacrificing his personal statistics to add a different component to a team blessed with excellent speed, quickness and skill.
His very presence on the team is fairly shocking. Transfers are such a commonplace function of Public League basketball culture, surprise or shock rarely registers around a player changing programs.
The 6-6 Foley averaged 29 points, with a career-best 46 points, at Northside as a junior last year. The magnet school is the academic jewel of the Public League that boasts the state’s highest average ACT score and was identified by Newsweek as the third-best high school in the country.
The Northside basketball team plays in the less competitive White-North. Foley was ready to test himself against more demanding competition. “It’s obviously a different culture, but everybody has been extremely welcoming here,” he said.
Foley was not exactly an outsider. His friendship with many of the Uplift players helped facilitate the change. His family also moved closer to the Uptown school. He enrolled there two weeks after the start of school in September. “I’ve been friends with these guys since seventh and eighth grade, and I thought it would be great for my senior for us to come together,” he said.
“I think we can really do some things.”
Foley’s impact has been wide. He scored 33 points against Warren as the Titans defended their championship of the Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament. “Obviously they were winning before I came, and I just try to do my role and help us win,” he said.
Titans’ star guard Jeremy Roscoe, who averaged 17 points and six rebounds last year, said his own game has benefited by Foley’s arrival. “I really love him being here because with his shooting ability it really spaces the floor,” Roscoe said.
Foley said his college recruiting was complicated by a severe ankle injury he suffered over the summer that limited his play. The service academies and multiple Ivy League programs have expressed interest.
Taylor said as the team refines and improves its offensive execution, Foley is the likely beneficiary. “He is not a player who is going to create off the dribble,” Taylor said. “He’s a player that we have to run our motion offense for. His production from a coaching standpoint has been fine.
“We just have to do a better job of taking advantage of his skills, because he has a very unique skill set,” he said.