By Jeffery Armstrong
Former Jonesboro High basketball standout and Clayton County's all-time leading scorer Toney Douglas, a rising sophomore at Auburn University, has declared his intentions on entering the NBA draft.
Douglas announced his declaration at a press conference at Auburn Tuesday afternoon, after taking - and passing - his last final exams for the semester.
"After the season I had this year, I told my Dad that I wanted to put my name in the NBA draft and test myself against the best competition that's out there," Douglas said. "I've worked hard and I'm mentally and physically ready to try my hand at the NBA."
Douglas hasn't hired an agent and has until June 21 to return to Auburn if he doesn't feel he'll become a first-round draft pick. Any player selected in the second round of the two-round NBA draft does not receive a guaranteed contract. All first-round draft picks will receive guaranteed contracts.
The NBA draft will take place on June 28 .
Douglas, who helped lead his Jonesboro Cardinals team to consecutive state final fours and also the state championship game as a junior, said he's getting ready to become an NBA-standard point guard. Douglas has gotten taller (he's now a half-inch taller than 6-foot-2) and he's up to 192 pounds; he's also been working out in the gym for two hours every day on his ball-handling drills.
"I work out all the time on my point guard skills. At Auburn this past year, all our big men left after the coach who recruited me [Cliff Ellis] was fired so we were a team of guards. My new coach [Jeff Lebo] asked me to play the point and the shooting guard positions," Douglas said. "It wasn't difficult for me to do. Now I want to advance to the next level."
Douglas' father Harry firmly believes that Toney, who was the fourth freshman in Auburn history to be named to the Associated Press All-SEC team (the third team), can do just that.
"I feel great and positive about Toney's decision to enter the NBA draft. I believe his chances of making a name for himself are as good as anyone else's in this year's draft," Harry said. "We don't care that there are a lot of high-profile guards waiting to be drafted; they better concern themselves with Toney."
Harry said he and his family believe strongly in Toney and have no regrets about his decision. He also emphasized thatToney entering the draft is not about the money.
"This is about my son pursuing his dream of playing in the NBA, something he's wanted to do ever since he was a child," Harry said. "He will now get a chance to show how well he can handle the ball at the upcoming pre-draft camp in Chicago. If he isn't happy with where they place him, he can go back to school and we'll try again later."
Speaking of returning to school, if Douglas does get drafted, he will continue to pursue his education and eventually get a degree.
"I made a promise to my Mom to get my degree. She wouldn't mind me getting drafted, but she's more concerned with me getting an education," Douglas said. "That's one promise I can't break."
Douglas finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game, and averaged 5.3 rebounds per game. He tied an Auburn freshman record with 38 points against Nicholls State and also scored 33 against Virginia and 32 against Florida.
Douglas was also selected as a Coaches Freshman All-SEC, the NABC All-District 6 second team and the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week.
He was also MVP of the San Juan Shootout, averaging 18 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Douglas scored 20 or more points 12 times, including a 23-point, 10-rebound effort in Auburn's 77-73 SEC Tournament upset of Vanderbilt.