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Patrick Sands
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May 12 - Douglas Au-Burns the Tigers

It was Tuesday of this week when Auburn basketball player Toney Douglas and his father, Harry,
shocked and later infuriated much of the Auburn Nation when announcing that not only was Douglas
making the surprising and head-scratching decision to jump to the NBA after only one season on The
Plains, but that he was the best player at Auburn during at least the last 20 years, how he would have
averaged 30 points per contest if only he a little support and last but not least, how Douglas’ father had
some issues to iron out with Auburn Head Coach Jeff Lebo about how his son is used in games.

The problem is not with Douglas, a 6-1, 190-pound guard from Jonesboro, Ga. who had a fine
freshman season at Auburn, finishing fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per
game, 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game during the season.

By all accounts Douglas is a good student and hard worker and he said all the right things at his press

“I am announcing that I am entering the 2005 NBA draft without an agent,” he said. “This upcoming June
I would like to participate in the Chicago pre-draft camp (June 7-10) and see where I stand. If I am not in
the first round, I will return back to college.”

“I would like to thank the War Eagle nation, who supported me throughout my first year here at Auburn,”
Douglas said.

Douglas, who was third team All-SEC this past season, has until June 21 to pull his name from the
June 28 draft without forfeiting his college eligibility.

The problem comes in is when Douglas admitted that he is letting his father do his marketing.

When his father spoke at the Tuesday press conference, it was then that many Auburn fans emotions
turned quickly from shock to anger as he not only insulted Lebo’s coaching strategy (which by all
accounts was brilliant) during a season in which Auburn was outmanned virtually every night, but also
the way he talked down the players on this season’s team and ignoring accomplishments of players in
years past.

Harry Douglas said that he wants his son to play point guard next season if he does pull his name from
the draft.

“He is not a shooting guard, he’s a point guard,” he said. “At some time he will be proving he is a quality
point guard.”

Lebo has already publicly acknowledged that Douglas will be counted on as the primary point guard
next season even after he gave him several shots to play the point this past season with less than
stellar results. The offense just ran smoother with Ian Young, also a shooting guard, running the team.

Last off-season, four probable starters for the 2004-05 season transferred or were removed from the
team in the wake of Cliff Ellis’ firing and the hiring of Lebo. Forward Marco Killingsworth and guard
Lewis Monroe transferred to Indiana, forward Dwayne Curtis transferred to Ole Miss and forward
Brandon Robinson was dismissed from the team.

Lebo was forced to go with 6-5 senior Quinnel Brown and 6-3 senior Nathan Watson at center for a
great portion of the season. The lack of depth and a devastating lack of size led to opportunities for
Douglas he might not have received in other years. He wouldn’t have cracked the lineup or rotation in
1998-99, a year in which Auburn earned a top-seed in the NCAA tournament and he probably would
have been no better than a reserve on Auburn’s 2002-03 Sweet 16 team.

“He came here to play point guard, I want you guys to understand that is what he is,” said his father. “He
is nothing else but a point guard. He is not a shooting guard, that perception may have come about, but
he is not a shooting guard.”

Douglas’ father was not done there. He proclaimed that his son was the “best freshman in the country
this year.”

“I don’t think there was a freshman in the country that put up and did what this young man did in a
conference like he played in and the numbers he put up consistently,” he said. “No disrespect to the
players that previously played at Auburn, but I think he is the best player to land on this plain since
Charles Barkley.”

“Can you imagine what kind of kid this kid would be with the support around him,” he asked. “I think
Toney underachieved some things this year in college basketball simply because he wasn’t given the
opportunity to do the things that I know he could have done. We will never know what he could have
done as a freshman. Chris Jackson averaged 30 points when he came into this league as a freshman.
I would put my money on it that Toney Douglas could have done the same thing if he had the support.”

The Auburn Family would welcome Douglas back home with open arms if he chooses to come back, he’
s a talented young man with a bright future in this game. However on Tuesday, his dad embarrassed
himself, his son and did no favors for anyone in and around the university with his comments. Should
Douglas decide to come back, his dad owes every returning player and coach on the team an apology.
He should also assure everyone that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Oh, and about him being the best player at Auburn since Charles Barkley. Tell that to Wesley Person,
Chuck Person, Chris Porter, Marquis Daniels, Bryant Smith, Doc Robinson, Ronnie Battle and many
others. He’s a good player and he may very well make that list of Auburn basketball greats one day, but
he’s not even close to the top right now. Father definitely doesn’t know best in this case.