Douglas Discusses Decision To Explore NBA Draft

Comments from Auburn freshman guard Toney Douglas are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--On Tuesday, Auburn guard Toney Douglas, with his father Harry and other family members by his side, formally announced that he was declaring himself eligible for the 2005 NBA Draft.

The 6-1, 190-pound All-SEC Freshman team selection from Jonesboro, Ga., said it has always been "a dream" to play in the NBA, but added he plans to stay at Auburn for his sophomore year unless he learns that he will be a first round draft pick.

Currently, there are no projections that he would be a first round pick or taken by any team in the draft, which goes for just two rounds.

In his formal announcement, Douglas said, "I would like to thank the War Eagle nation, who supported me throughout my first year here at Auburn. I accomplished a lot of things here as a freshman. I would especially like to thank my mom and dad, Harry and Stephanie Douglas--especially my dad. It was a lot of work as a kid growing up. Me doing this today is a special day for me."

The guard averaged 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season. He shot 42 percent from the floor, 37 percent from three-point range and 79 percent at the foul line.

"I am announcing that I am entering the 2005 NBA draft without an agent," Douglas 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."

The draft is June 28 and Douglas can withdraw from it as late as June 21.

It is unclear if Douglas will have an opportunity to show what he can do at the Chicago camp, which is by invitation only, something that the player and his father said they have not received.

The Auburn freshman said he is letting his father handle those kind of details. He noted that his father did a bio on the player and is "marketing" the guard to NBA teams, which can get him an invitation to the camp.

Douglas said that he believes he will be a first round draft pick this year. "Throughout my whole life I had to prove everything," he said. "I am a hard worker. I just want to show that I could compete against the best. I love competition and I like my chances."

When asked if someone with NBA contacts had recommended that he make himself eligible for the draft, Douglas said, "No, I just feel like I am ready. I feel like what I did here my freshman year in the SEC...I like competition. All of my life I have always played against the best. I want to do this because I want to play against the best in country. I feel like I am ready. Nobody told me nothing."

If he returns for his sophomore year, Douglas said he plans to work on becoming a more vocal team leader.

His father, Harry, said if his son returns as a sophomore he wants him playing the point guard position, the spot that he and his son contend he is best suited for as a pro player.

"He is not a shooting guard, he is a point guard," Harry Douglas said. "At some time he will be proving he is a quality point guard."

Toney Douglas said, "I am adaptable. I can do anything. I am the type of kid who does everything coach tells me, but my position is like a point guard, a motion guard."

Douglas earned third team All-SEC honors as a freshman. He was originally signed by Coach Cliff Ellis and his staff, but Ellis was fired and replaced by Jeff Lebo.

Lebo said that playing in the NBA is a dream of many players. "He certainly wants to test the waters with the NBA," he said. "I think he is doing it the smart way, not getting the agent. He obviously knows the dates and all of the rules on how it works so this will be an important month for him to see what he wants to do."

The coach said if Douglas returns for his sophomore year, he will see a role change. "I think he is a guard. He can play either position, that's what makes him good, I think. He didn't play as much point last year. The thing is, we were a little tied with the numbers we had. (Point guard) is where he is going to have to play at the next level. He will play the point next year a lot more than he did last year."

Harry Douglas said, "He came in as being a highly recruited kid by the previous regime. He came here to play point guard. I want you guys to understand that is what he is. He is nothing else but a point guard. He is not a shooting guard. That perception may have came about, but he is not a shooting guard."

Harry Douglas added, "He played shooting guard. Like he said, he is adaptable. My kid is not one of those kids that rebels and goes against the system. He did what the coach asked him to do. As parents, we supported him and we didn't make a big fuss about it, but I do want you to know he is a point guard, not a shooting guard. He will enter the NBA as a point guard."

The father of the guard also said, "I would to go out on the limb and say this. I think Toney 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. Sure, he had five or six bad games. That was understandable as a freshman...

"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."

Harry Douglas added that his son should have been named SEC Freshman of the Year, an award that was won by Glenn "Big Baby" Davis of LSU.

"Can you imagine what kind of kid this kid would be with the support around him?" Harry Douglas said. "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 could put my money on it that Toney Douglas could have done the same thing if he had the support."

The freshman said he has talked with Lebo on the subject and expects to primarily be a point guard if he returns for a second season at Auburn. His father said, "There are still some things that Coach Jeff and I are going to talk about and iron out and hopefully we came come to that conclusion. I want what is best for my son. He has worked hard. He has given a lot to this university. This university has given a lot to him. We want to stay in good standing with Auburn University. We want Auburn University to appreciate and stay in good standing with him. It works on both ends."

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