Advice for Toney's Dad, Manager, Agent, Promoter

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about former Auburn basketball player Toney Douglas, who is expected to transfer to another college.

Harry Douglas, Toney's dad, agent, spokesman and promoter, didn't ask for my help, but I decided to offer it anyway.

Since I have managed--many would say amazingly--to make a living for 35-plus years as a writer, I decided to write a letter for him to send to colleges where he might be interested in sending his son.

Dear Coach:

I guess you've heard by now that Toney Douglas, my son, has gotten his release from Auburn University. I'm sure you've heard of him. All the pro scouts are buzzing about him. In case you don't know, he's the best college basketball player in the country and really ought to be in the NBA.

Anyway, Toney would be interested in checking out your school. We would like to come for a visit. Since I don't want to take advantage of the situation, there are a few things you should know before we come. First, Toney is a point guard. If you don't know that, you obviously don't know how to coach and we won't be interested in your school.

The coach at Auburn, a guy named Jeff Lebo, apparently forgot everything he learned about point guard play from Dean Smith, because he had the audacity to play Toney at shooting guard. All you'll have to do is watch some Auburn tape and you'll understand. Toney led the team in scoring as a freshman and took the second most shots of any player in the Southeastern Conference, but you can clearly see he would have averaged 30 points a game at point guard.

If you are interested, please give me a call and we'll set up a visit. Once the family and I are there, we can iron out some other details. If you want Toney to play for you, you'll have to make me lots of promises. If you leave and another coach takes your place, I'll make sure he understands that your promises are his promises.

You should have seen the look on Lebo's face when I told the media what I thought while he stood in the back of the room. I thought he'd get the point and understand that I know best, but I guess he didn't.

If somewhere along the way you decide Toney could help the team win more at shooting guard than at point guard, well, that's just too bad. He's a point guard. He's not a shooting guard. Never has been and never will be. That he is a shooting guard is just a rumor. I mean, we want to win and all, but the most important thing is getting to the NBA. Those guys make lots of money, you know?

I'll want to watch some tape of the sets you run on offense and make sure that you can adapt to Toney bringing the ball down court and shooting as many times as he wants.

Oh, yeah, another important thing: You can't tell Toney any of this. Toney, you see, actually thinks the coach runs the show in college basketball. He even liked Lebo and told lots of people he'd learned a whole lot from him. He liked it at Auburn and liked his teammates. Lebo and his teammates liked him, too. It's probably a good thing I was able to explain reality to him before it was too late. All Lebo had to do was promise to use Toney just like I wanted him to and Toney would still be there. He wouldn't do it. Kind of unreasonable on his part, wouldn't you say?

By the way Coach, if we sign with your school, I'll be at every game in case you need some advice. I'll be checking out the box score, too, to make sure it's right. You should have seen me the night Auburn played at South Carolina. I think Auburn won, but I'm not sure. It's kind of hard to watch Toney and the scoreboard at the same time.

Anyway, they messed up the box score and gave one of Toney's three-pointers to Ian Young. I told Chuck Gallina, the sports information guy, off real good. I had a few choice words for him. I guess some people would call it profanity. I was screaming and a lot of people heard, but you know how it is. You have to support your kid. Come to find out, Chuck didn't have anything to do with the box score since the game was at South Carolina, but I made my point. I also made sure everybody within earshot of me at home games understood that Toney was a point guard, not a shooting guard. I guess they wish now Lebo had paid attention.

I do a good job of promotions, too. I had this idea when Toney was at Auburn. I started sending emails to all the media people who cover the team and explaining to them how good Toney is. I signed them all Bob Smith. Pretty clever, huh?

As you can see, I am a very supportive dad. I look forward to hearing from you.


Harry Douglas

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