On Guard! Tigers Adding Talented Hoops Prospects

With the early signing period here for basketball prospects, the Tigers are bringing in a talented pair of guards who will join the team for the 2004-2005 season.

Jonesboro, Ga.--Auburn's two early verbal basketball commitments, Toney Douglas and Frank Tolbert, are scheduled to sign scholarship papers at ceremonies at their high schools this week.

Douglas, a 6-1, 180-pound combo guard from Jonesboro High School, told Inside the Auburn Tigers that he will have his signing party on Friday. By that time he will be Auburn's second signee of the early signing week because Tolbert will have already signed on Wednesday at ceremonies at Red Level, Ala., High School. High school juniors can sign scholarships Wednesday through midnight next Tuesday.

Douglas was an unusually early verbal commitment to AU and is also unusually talented. He announced last January during the middle of his impressive junior season that he would play for Auburn.

He finished his junior season with a truckload of awards after averaging 28.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on his way to being a first team Class AAAAA All-State team selection. He led Jonesboro High to a Final Four finish in the state tournament.

"I am working hard getting ready for basketball season," Douglas says. "We started practice in October and our first game is Dec. 2nd."

Douglas says he is focusing on improving his defensive skills as a senior, but he is definitely not neglecting his offensive skills. "I took 300 jump shots today," he notes. "I am also working on my conditioning. I know teams are going to box me this year." His Jonesboro High team suffered heavy losses in the graduation class last year so he is expected to be the focus of opposing team's defenses.

Douglas is a versatile player, who is equally at home at the point guard and shooting guard spots. "It is hard to say," he answers with a laugh when asked which position is his best. "I really don't know."

Toney Douglas

Douglas picked Auburn over Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, FSU, LSU, Tennessee, UConn, Alabama and others. He is considered one of the top guard prospects in this season's signee class.

"I really like Auburn and they were my number one choice," Douglas says. "They showed me a lot of love and were the first college to recruit me." Douglas says that he also likes Auburn's Cliff Ellis and was impressed with the head coach when he made an in-home visit to Douglas in Jonesboro.

"Auburn is not far away and it will be easy for my parents to come see my games," Douglas adds. "I also like the players. Everybody is like family there."

Red Level High School's Tolbert also made a very early choice to sign with Auburn. He committed last April after a very impressive junior season in which he 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 of "Manchild" 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.

Frank Tolbert is shown at the Alabama High School All-Star Game played this past summer in Montgomery.

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. "I am really looking forward to playing college ball at Auburn," Tolbert says. "Auburn has a good team and I like the players and the coaches there."

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 very talented player who does many things on the court very well. Auburn is getting a very good basketball player."

Tolbert, who broke a bone in his foot during the offseason, is healthy again and ready for his senior season at Red Level High.

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