One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 6, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
In 1985 after being an assistant coach for 10 years I finally became a head coach at Pembroke State University (now called UNC Pembroke). I had inherited a veteran team but after year one I knew I was going to need to recruit some new players due to having a number of seniors on my 1985/86 team.. My first recruit was Ken Spencer from Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, NC. Ken lived in Eagle Springs, NC and he was a 5’ 10” guard that understood the game and was passionate about how it should be played. Ken not only became my first recruit but became a friend. I am also proud that he is currently a college basketball coach serving as Associate Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC.
Ken and his wife Ellen have two children, K.J. (26) and Karmen (21).
The son of Levon and Josephine Spencer of Eagle Springs, N.C., Ken was the youngest of seven children and understood the importance of family. He graduated from Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, N.C., where he was a teammate of former Winston-Salem State and current University Maryland Eastern Shore men’s head basketball coach Bobby Collins. Ken was a two-time all-conference selection in high school and was an honorable mention all-state pick as a senior in 1986 after leading the team to the state 4-A semifinals. The head coach of that team was Jeff Capel II who’s son Jeff Capel III is the Associate Head Coach at Duke University. Jeff Capel III is former head coach at VCU and Oklahoma.
Ken had a nice career playing at UNC Pembroke before he entered the coaching ranks himself. Ken when he finished playing left UNCP at that time as the school’s all-time three-point field goal leader. The record didn’t last long because it got broken by Russ Bryden in 1996.
A four-year Letterman, Ken was captain on the UNCP team that won the 1990 Carolinas Conference championship during his senior season. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from UNC Pembroke in 1991 and returned to UNCP to obtain a physical education degree with teacher certification in 1992-1993. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army after college and served in the Reserves for 10 years.
Before Ken went into college coaching he learned more about the game by becoming a very successful high school coach. He built a powerhouse as the head boys’ basketball coach at Marlboro County High School in Bennettsville, S.C. In eight seasons, Marlboro County High was 173-51 overall, appeared in three state title games and won the state championship in 2001.
Ken is the winningest coach in the history of Marlboro County High and was named South Carolina coach of the year by the National Federation of High Schools in 2001. He was the South Carolina AAAA coach of the year in 2000 and 2005, the South Carolina statewide coach of the year in 2001, and a six-time winner of the Region V AAAA Coach of the Year award after leading MCHS to six consecutive regional crowns.
He has also been an assistant basketball coach at Winston-Salem State University and head coach at St. Augustine’s in Raleigh, NC in addition to the last three years at SC State University.
I am confident that he will be a collegiate head coach again one day.
Ken will be rooting for his high school coach’s son Jeff Capel III and Duke University team tonight as they attempt to win the 2015 NCAA Championship in Indianapolis, IN against Wisconsin. Jeff Capel III is the Associate Head Coach for the Blue Devils.
The Friend – KEN SPENCER
The Friend of the Friend – JEFF CAPEL II
The Capel Coaching Family
In 1985 when I began recruiting Ken Spencer from Pinecrest HS I began to understand what a great family his high school coach Jeff Capel was from. I also found Jeff Capel to be a man of class and integrity. He instilled those qualities in his players also. I know that Ken cherishes his relationship not only with Jeff Sr. but his entire family.
In the fall of 1985 I was trying to schedule a recruiting visit to Ken’s house when Jeff asked me if I wanted to play a round of golf with him at the Pinehurst Golf Resort. I didn’t want to get off to a bad start with one of the better high school coaches in the region so I said yes having no idea how I would pay for the exorbitant green fees that Pinehurst charged. The green fees and cart were over $125 and that was back in 1985.Today it is over $300. I told my wife I needed a $100 and as understanding of a coach’s wife that she was she wasn’t pleased.
I met Jeff Capel II at the pro shop and he was treated like a rock star. The pro told him to grab a cart and for us to tee off on Pinehurst #4. There was no mention of money and I asked Jeff what I owed him and he said nothing. The golf pro’s were all big athletes and Coach Capel traded out access to the gym/weight room at the high school in the winter for golf rounds. I was playing Pinehurst #4 for free.
Ken signed with Pembroke in 1986 and in 1989 Jeff Capel II became the head coach at Fayetteville State. Jeff Capel II age 61 is currently an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76er’s. He was the head coach at Old Dominion from 1994 to 2001 and at North Carolina A&T (1993-94) and Fayetteville State (1989-1993).
Jeff has also served as assistant coach in the NBA with the Charlotte Bobcats before joining the 76er’s, Capel was the head coach of the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBA Development 2001-02 and guided the team to the D-League Finals in his first full season in 2002-03.
Jeff is the father of Jeff Capel III who starred for Duke from 1993-97. The younger Capel was a teammate of Chris Collins, son of former Sixers head coach Doug Collins. Jeff also has another son Jason Capel who played at North Carolina and is the former head coach at Appalachian State University.
Ken Spencer got schooled by a great high school coach in Jeff Capel II.
The three Capel’s (father and two sons) have been head coaches at Fayetteville State, NC A&T, App State, VCU, and Oklahoma. Jeff’s II father is Felton Jeff Capel and the basketball arena at Fayetteville State is named after him. Throw in that Jeff II has been a NBA Coach and the two sons played in the ACC for Duke and UNC.
I think the Capel’s define a family basketball pedigree and my former player and friend Ken Spencer got exposed at an early age to that wisdom.