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Rick O'Brien: Tennent's Spencer the 'next LeBron'?

The 6-foot-8 freshman is already getting college interest.

The middle-school phenom has finally arrived.

Horace Spencer III, a 6-foot-8, 200-pounder who has dominated while playing on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit, is set to begin his high school career at William Tennent.

The 14-year-old is ranked as one of the country's top players in the Class of 2015. Some have boldly called him "the next LeBron James."

Though Spencer considered playing high school hoops for a higher-profile program, the Warminster resident opted to attend nearby William Tennent, of the Centennial School District.

Robert Mulville, Tennent's fifth-year coach, said he did not apply a full-court press to get Spencer to play for the Panthers.

"I just kind of introduced myself to him a couple of times, let him know I was interested in him coming to the school," Mulville said.

Spencer went to Tennent after starring at Klinger Middle School, in Southampton. "He could pretty much score at will there," Mulville said.

Spencer, who has shined while playing AAU ball for the South Jersey Gymrats, already has attracted recruiting interest from the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, and Stanford.

The freshman's skill set and fundamentals are still raw, but he's a quality shot blocker, runs the court well, and has decent shooting range. The upside is high, as he has played only three seasons of organized basketball.

"The biggest thing I like him about him so far is the way he has meshed with his teammates," Mulville said. "He's taken to his teammates, and his teammates have taken to him."

Spencer already has raised Tennent's basketball profile. The Panthers, who went 6-16 overall last season, were invited to play Interboro in the seventh annual Jameer Nelson/ Classic on Dec. 30 at Widener.

Tennent brings back Jack Rauchut, a 6-4 senior forward and third-year starter; 5-10 junior point guard Mike Wasserleben; and 6-1 sophomore swingman Matt Alden. Ryan Smith, a senior wing guard, is a three-year varsity player.

"Spencer won't have to carry the burden of getting every rebound and scoring most of the points," Mulville said.

Sabbatical over. Frank Sciolla, who resigned as Pennsbury's coach in August 2010 for personal reasons, is the new boss at Bristol.

"During my year off, a couple of good coaching opportunities were put on the table," he said. "In the midst of that, I thought about coaching again."

In 15 seasons at Pennsbury, Sciolla compiled a 280-136 record and won seven Suburban One League championships. In 2007-08, the Falcons went 30-3, placed third in the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs, and advanced to the state semifinals.

Sciolla stepped down at Pennsbury to give his wife, Amanda, a chance to complete a master's degree in education. They have two children: Ava, 8, and Dante, 3.

Bristol, a Class A school that competes in the Bicentennial Athletic League Constitution Division, went 4-18 last season. The Warriors have won only 31 games over the last four years.

"Expectation-wise, it's a lot different coaching at Bristol," Sciolla said. "It's been a long time since the program has been consistently successful. But the people in the community are really behind us. They love basketball."

Sciolla is joined at Bristol by four of his former Pennsbury assistants: Kurt Bergmann, Jon Love, Mike Higgins, and Leon Nazian.

Tipoff tourney. Three teams in The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania preseason Top 10 will be showcased this weekend in the Coatesville/ Tip-Off Classic.

The seven-game event will be held over two days, with two games Friday and five Saturday, at Coatesville High.

Saturday at 4 p.m., No. 5-ranked Math, Civics & Sciences will face Father Judge. That will be followed, at 5:45 p.m., by No. 7 Lower Merion vs. No. 10 Roman Catholic.