by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Not many people may claim that they played in two high school basketball championships in the same day?
Spencer Marion can.
In Grade 10 he was a member of the Archbishop MacDonald High School Marauders junior varsity basketball team when they defeated Holy Trinity in double overtime for a Edmonton city title.
A little over two hours later, he dawned the jersey of the Marauders senior team which would also go on to victory.
"I was brought up to the senior team for the semi-finals and finals and I played about 20 to 25 minutes," recalls Marion, now a fourth-year forward for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference University of Alberta Augustana Vikings in Camrose, Alberta.
"It was an unusual circumstance for sure."
The following year in Grade 11, he would be recognized as an Edmonton Journal All Star and in Grade 12 named as his team's Most Valuable Player.
All of the hours indoors perfecting his game and outdoors at Oxford Park courts in northwest Edmonton, were now paying off.
"Oxford Park courts...that's where I grew up playing," recalls Marion, who is enrolled in Business Economics at Augustana. "I was there just about every day for two or three hours. One of the rims was shorter...about eight-and-a-half feet....so we would have dunk contests there and try out the different dunks we had seen on television during the NBA Dunk Contest. "We would try to act like the different players we had watched.
"When I first started playing, I loved the Phoenix Suns, so I thought I would be the next Steve Nash and then when I realized that I would be a post...I thought I would be the next Charles Barkley."
Standing 6-foot-4 with a vertical touch of 11 feet 3 inches, Marion said he first dunked a basketball (on a 10-foot-rim not the one located at Oxford Park) in Grade 10.
"All of the work was paying off and it was kind of a relief," recalled Marion, who also played competitive hockey and volleyball as a youth. "I was always the taller kid and people expected that you should be able to dunk. Now people could not say anything to me anymore. I could dunk now."
Following high school graduation, he would journey south to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend Rise Academy Basketball to upgrade his on-court skills.
"I spent four months down there," said Marion, 21."Honestly, it was there that I learned how to play the game of basketball at a different level. It is a different culture of basketball in the states. The game down there was more physical and the kids were bigger and faster and they made decisions a lot faster."
For the 2015-2016 season Marion would enroll at Augustana and his skills were evident as he was honoured as the ACAC North Division Rookie of the Year.
In an offence averaging nearly 70 points per game (ppg), he was the second leader scorer on the Vikings by dropping in 11.5 ppg compared to Cameron Vilcsak's 14.4 ppg.
He was second in the North Division windexing the boards at a 6.75 rebounds per game average and tied for eighth in blocks.
Of his basketball highlight to date, he looks back to his second year at Augustana.
"We were playing Lakeland (Rustlers) and it was our senior night and I remember the game went into overtime. I think I had two or three baskets to help win the game. That stands out, in that I had two friends (teammates) that were graduating that year and it meant them having a good senior night. That sticks out for me."
He said his childhood dream was to become a "pilot."
"I wanted to be a pilot really bad but then one of my teachers (junior high) told me that I would be too tall, so I was crushed. Then I found out later that there was no height restriction so my childhood dream came back to me and I want to pursue it one day."
The Vikings are currently at three wins and five losses and Marion is averaging 13.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg while shooting an impressive 56.3% from the field.
For now Marion will keep his high flying to the hardwood.