Frank "Man Child" Tolbert, a six-foot-three shooting guard from Red Level High, plans to sign with the Tigers in November and enroll at AU for fall semester 2004.
He joins Jonesboro, Ga., High School point guard Toney Douglas as a very early commitment for the Tigers, who are expected to sign a pair of players this spring to enroll this August. Auburn signed two players last November--6-5 forward Ronny LeMelle from Western Oklahoma State, a junior college, and 6-9 center Dwayne Curtis from Young High in Chicago.
Tolbert averaged 23 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots per game for the Tigers as a junior playing a variety of positions. He earned his nickname because of his unusual strength on the basketball court. He shattered a backboard in a game on a slam dunk as a sophomore vs. W.S. Neal.
Tolbert, who chose the Tigers over Alabama and other colleges, hit 55 percent of his field goals, 29 percent of his three-pointers and 73 percent of his free throws.
His coach, Fred Kelley, says that Tolbert is one of the top students academically at the high school located in south Alabama. Tolbert led Red Level to a 23-2 record this past season and has been a starter since he was a ninth grader.
"He is a great young man and we are excited that he will be playing college basketball at Auburn," Kelley says. "He joined the varsity in the eighth grade and has been on the team the entire season the past three years and has helped us to records of 20-6, 22-5 and 23-2. Going into his senior season, he is only 250 points away from 2,000 career points.
Douglas, a 6-2, 178-pound junior, averaged 29.3 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals this past season and was named AAAAA Player of the Year in the state of Georgia. He chose Auburn over Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, FSU, LSU, Tennessee, UConn and Alabama.
Auburn's early basketball signees put up good numbers this past season. LeMelle, a 6-5 small forward from Harrisburg, Pa., earned All-Conference honors for a second straight year at Western Oklahoma State, a junior college in Altus, Okla. He averaged 19.4 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Curtis, a 6-9 center from Young High in Chicago who was MVP of two tournaments featuring top high school teams, averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds but had his season cut short by a broken bone in his foot. Curtis is out of his cast and will play in the Wendy's All-Star Classic this summer, a game matching the top prospects from Chicago vs. New York.