On a team loaded with guards, but lacking height, 6-4 senior Brandon Douglas has had to shoulder the load up front for the Sterlington Panthers.
A true guard himself, Douglas has thrived at center, averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds while helping the Panthers to a 22-6 record, including a 7-0 District 2-2A mark.
“Brandon rebounds, throws the ball in on the inbounds pass and scores the ball,” Sterlington coach Kevin Caballero said. “He creates matchup problems on the inbounds pass for us. He's been something else.”
On the rare occasions that he has sat out, Douglas' value to the Panthers has been magnified.
“He hasn't fouled out of a game all year — I better knock on wood,” Caballero said. “At the beginning of the year, he got into foul trouble and we couldn't rebound.”
Douglas picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter during a couple of recent games, but managed to dodge the dreadful fifth whistle.
“Brandon realizes how important he is to the team,” Caballero said. “He understands that we can't have him out of the game because we lose our defensive rebounder.”
Douglas averaged 17.5 points and 9.9 rebounds en route to earning first-team All-District honors as a forward last season. Following the graduation of 5-10 center Jordan Crew, Douglas slid into the five spot as a senior.
“We let Jordan run the floor for us and Brandon was able to work on some stuff that a five man in high school usually doesn't work at,” Caballero said. “Brandon's a high school center, but at the next level, he's probably a three.”
Sterlington's four seniors — Douglas, point guard Derek Price and guards Matt Allred and Lance Richard — have all been fixtures in the starting lineup for at least three years (Allred is in his fifth season as a starter). Understandably, Caballero would rather not be reminded that he is about to lose a group that has been the core of the program in one swoop.
“Brandon and Derek actually started out here in the seventh grade,” Caballero recalled. “Matt came along the next year and Lance came in as a sophomore.
“It's going to be different around here next year. We have some good JV kids coming up, but these guys have been around for a long time. I'll be honest with you, I hate to see them go. They've been a pleasure to coach.”
Cracking the starting lineup as a sophomore, Douglas averaged 8.4 points and 7 rebounds as a sophomore. Since then, Douglas has elevated his game.
“Brandon has gone from playing a little as a freshman to being one of the guys we really rely on to make plays and rebound the ball as a junior and senior,” Caballero said. “He's been a great part of this team.”
Page 2 of 3 - FIRST QUARTER
NOWN: When did you start playing basketball?
Brandon Douglas: I was around 4 or 5. When I was about 7, I started playing on a rec team in
Sterlington. My daddy (Bobby Joe Douglas) was the coach.
NOWN: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of basketball?
Douglas: My favorite part would be winning and being around my teammates.
My least favorite is losing and knowing I could have done something better.
NOWN: What has it been like growing up as the son of a basketball legend?
Douglas: Everybody was always like, 'Are you going to be like him? Are you going to shoot like him?' But I really couldn't be him. I just wanted to be as good as I could be.
It helps having him there (as an assistant coach) to tell me what I'm doing wrong.
Coach Cab is just as good. He tells you what you're doing wrong, what you're doing right and what you could do better.
NOWN: What is the biggest improvement you have made since your eighth grade year?
Douglas: Basically, I just play harder. I used to be real lazy.
NOWN: How important is it for the Panthers to win district?
Douglas: We've been second ever since my freshman year, so we're ready to go out with a bang and win it our senior year.
Last year was a heartbreaker. We lost to Lakeside and Jonesboro-Hodge on the road.
We lost to Farmerville at the buzzer my sophomore year.
NOWN: What improvements do the Panthers need to make with the playoffs approaching?
Douglas: Basically, defense. Our size gets us on defense.
NOWN: The core of this team has been together for a while. How much time do ya'll spend together off the court?
Douglas: Derek (Price), (Matt) Allred and I have been together since the eighth grade and Lance (Richard) came here as a sophomore.
We've become pretty close. We used to always go over to Matt's house and talk basketball. We don't do that as much now, but we're all still close.
NOWN: What has the addition of Tevin Davis at the semester added to the Panthers?
Douglas: Tevin's added a lot of athleticism and given us some depth on the bench. In his first game back, he was the leading scorer against Homer.
NOWN: What are your team and individual goals for the remainder of the season?
Page 3 of 3 - Douglas: Our number one goal is to win our next game. Our next goal is to win district and our next goal is to go as far as we can in the playoffs.
On an individual scale, I want to get into college to play basketball.
NOWN: What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Douglas: I think most people would be surprised to know that I like to cook.
I can cook meat loaf, mashed potatoes, breakfast; anything, basically.
My mom (Phyllis Douglas) and grandma (Willie Mae Potter) taught me how to cook.
NOWN: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
Douglas: I'm going to miss the routine of coming to practice and getting to see people that I get along with every day. I'm going to miss playing in front of my friends.
NOWN: What are your future plans?
Douglas: I plan on going to college and playing basketball. I haven't decided on a major.