By Rory Sharrock
Athleticism and intelligence is a dominate gene swimming through the DNA of the Douglas family.
Harry Douglas was an All-Southern Crescent wide receiver at Jonesboro High School who ripped apart defenders from Clayton County to the Big East Conference at the University of Louisville before being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008. Douglas also excelled in the classroom, earning a degree in political science.
His younger brother Toney is in the same category, except he cuts up the competition on the court. He has a degree in political science and he's on the cusp of completing a remarkable college career at Florida State with his own hopes of playing on the next level.
Toney Douglas, who also starred at Jonesboro, has continued to turn heads with the Seminoles as one of the premiere point guards not only in the ACC, but throughout the nation.
Last season, he averaged 15.4 points, 2.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds and a career-high and ACC leading 2.6 steals per game. These stats led him to be selected All-ACC Third Team and All-ACC Defensive Team.
Douglas put up great numbers last year, but his Seminoles finished 19-15 and 7-9 in the ACC.
Later in the ACC Tournament, Florida State won its opening round game against Wake Forest then lost to North Carolina in the quarterfinals, which busted its bubble chances of advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
This shortcoming has inspired Douglas to work that much harder on improving his game and leading his squad over the hump by playing basketball deep into March.
"Ever since our last game of the season, I've been working hard individually. I took two weeks off and from then, I've been training this whole summer and preseason. In practice, I go hard every day. If I stay on my grind, I know my teammates are going to follow," said Douglas.
His commitment to success during the summer has helped the Seminoles turn up the heat this month. Florida State is off to a 7-0 start and Douglas has led by example, averaging 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists during the team's hot streak.
Suiting up in the ACC, Douglas matches dribble for dribble against some of the best teams in the country.
Nevertheless, he holds his own as a pad lock defender with quick hands known to alter a pass or swipe away the ball and lead the transition offense.
He enjoys the thrill of competition on the court and prides himself as an avid film junkie who spends countless hours watching DVDs of his opponent's tendencies.
"It's real fun. You can't slack off. Every night you have to come and play. The ACC is a guard league so every night I watch film of the top guard I'm guarding," he said. "I spend a lot of my time in the film room learning every move of the point guard that I'm guarding. I take pride in my defense. You have to have stops."
These larceny skills were originally developed on the hardwood floor of Jonesboro High School under the guidance of then head coach Mack Cain.
Cain called out the plays and Douglas took flight leading the Cardinals to a Final Four berth as a sophomore as well as an appearance in state championship game in his junior season.
Just like his older brother, Toney was a winner on the court and in the classroom. Although they share similar traits in and out of uniform, Toney still looks up to Harry with admoration as if they were still kids.
"I'm real proud of my brother. He's like my best friend," he said. "We talk every day. I look up to him. He always talked to me about work ethic and that's where I get my work ethic from. He always tells me what I need to work on. That's my brother; of course he's not going to tell me what I do well because that's how our family is. He tells me not to be satisfied, stay humble and always work hard."
Just like his brother Harry, Toney hopes to get drafted and become a professional athlete. Playing in the NBA is one of his life-long goals and he's focused on improving on the little things to turn this dream into a reality.
Should he get drafted next June, he'll become the second Jonesboro graduate to turn pro this decade.
"My play will speak for itself. My dream is to play in the NBA and one day I know I will. It's all about timing. My brother being in the NFL is all about timing. I think this will be a good year for me and my teammates," said Douglas.
While playing in the NBA will confirm his professional status, getting drafted would be the icing on the cake on a personal level.
Like most people, Douglas shares a unique bond with his parents and siblings. They've logged several miles on the ground and through the air, watching both brothers compete in sports. Harry has already begun to repay his family for their unconditional support and Toney plans to follow suit once he's in the NBA.
"We both have degrees and they care about that more than ball. They come to all our games, home and away. They spent so much money on us and all I want to do is take of them. If anybody's going to be there, it's my mom and dad. They travel to see my brother play and soon they'll travel to see me."
When he's not on the court, Douglas is enrolled in master's program studying sports management.
This week, the Seminoles play at Northwestern, Dec. 3 before returning home to face Florida, Dec. 7.
Jonesboro's schedule for the week includes home games versus Duthctown, Dec. 2 and Griffin, Dec. 5.