Leon Douglas

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Leon Douglas
Personal information
Born (1954-08-26) August 26, 1954 (age 67)
Leighton, Alabama
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High schoolColbert County
(Leighton, Alabama)
CollegeAlabama (1972–1976)
NBA draft1976 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1976–1992
PositionCenter
Number13
Career history
As player:
19761980Detroit Pistons
19801982Kansas City Kings
1982–1983Carrera Venezia
1983–1984CSP Limoges
1984–1987Yoga Bologna
1987–1991Maltinti / Kleenex Pistoia
1992Pallacanestro Trieste
As coach:
2004–2006Stillman College
2005Magic City Court Kings
2006–2014Tuskegee
2014–2017Miles
2019–2020Cordova HS
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points3,587 (7.9 ppg)
Rebounds2,954 (6.5 rpg)
Assists479 (1.1 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com
Medals
Representing  United States
Men's basketball
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1975 Mexico City Team competition

Leon Douglas (born August 26, 1954) is an American basketball coach and former professional player. He played seven seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) before transitioning to an extensive professional career overseas in Europe. After retiring, Douglas went into coaching, leading several HBCU programs in his home state of Alabama in his career.

Amateur career[edit]

Born in Leighton, Alabama, Douglas played high school basketball at Colbert County High School, and was named a Parade All-American in his 1971-72 senior year. He played collegiately at Alabama, where he was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection and two-time SEC Player of the Year.[1][2] Douglas played at Alabama for coach CM Newton, who would start five black players in a time of racial turbulence and progress. Douglas said, "We knew Coach Newton (signed us) because he wanted to win. He wasn't trying to be a trailblazer. You have to respect a man for putting five black starters on the court when others said it was a no-no." On December 28, 1973, in a 65-55 win at Louisville Cardinals men's basketball, Newton started Douglas, Charles "Boonie" Russell, Charles Cleveland, T.R. Dunn and Ray Odums for the first all-black starting line-up in SEC history, and a team that would win the SEC season title.[3][4][5][6]

Douglas helped Alabama to new heights, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history in 1975, and then following up in the 1976 NCAA Tournament with the program's first post-season victory, a 79-64 victory over North Carolina, with Douglas scoring 35 points.[7] The team would lose in the next round, 74-69, to eventual national champion Indiana, and finished the season ranked 6th in polls.[8][9] In his senior year, he averaged a double-double of 20.6 ppg and 12.4 rpg, and was named a third team All-American.[1]

Douglas was also a member of the United States national basketball team that won a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.[10]

Professional career[edit]

Douglas was the first Crimson Tide player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft when he was chosen fourth overall by the Detroit Pistons in 1976.[11] He went on to play four years (1976-1980) with the Pistons, peaking with averages of 11.4 ppg and 8.5 rpg in the 1978–79 Detroit Pistons season, backing up Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, who called Douglas, "One of the strongest men I ever played against."[12][13] Douglas was plagued by a tendency to commit personal fouls with his physical style of play, finishing three seasons (1976-1979) in the top-20 of fouls committed, all while playing as a reserve.[13] Also, relative to his draft position and the depth of the 1976 draft, the selection of Douglas would come to be viewed with some frustration as four Hall of Fame players (Adrian Dantley, Robert Parish, Alex English and Dennis Johnson) were all selected after Douglas.[14][15]

He then signed as a veteran free agent with the Kansas City Kings in 1980, with Detroit receiving a compensatory pick in return, which they used to draft Kelly Tripucka in the 1981 NBA Draft.[16] Douglas played for the Kings as a reserve through the start of the 1982-83 Kansas City Kings season, when he was released, bringing his NBA career to a close.[13][11] Over seven NBA seasons, Douglas averaged 7.9 ppg and 6.5 rpg.

Douglas then pursued overseas opportunities, initially with Limoges CSP in France, helping the team to win the 1983-84 LNB Pro A league title, and then in Serie A in Italy, with Fortitudo Bologna (1984–87) and then with Olimpia Basket Pistoia (1987–91) where, for two seasons (1987-1989) he paired with Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, who was raising his son Kobe Bryant. Kobe would work at the games as a ball and mop boy and would practice shooting at halftime, with Douglas sharing, "At every one of our games at halftime, it was the Kobe show. He'd get out there and get his shot up. We'd come out of the locker room at halftime and have to chase him off the court".[17] Douglas finished his playing career with Pallacanestro Trieste in 1992.

Coaching career[edit]

Douglas would return to basketball and became the head coach at Stillman College in 2004.[18][19] In his first two seasons at Stillman, Douglas led the Tigers to the 2006 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.[11]

He also coached the semi-professional Magic City King Courts (Magic City is a nickname for Birmingham, Alabama) of the World Basketball Association for their 2005 season. The team withdrew from the WBA in 2006 and was later suspended.[20]

Douglas then left Stillman in 2006 to become the head basketball coach at Tuskegee University.[11] The Tuskegee Golden Tigers won three SIAC titles with Douglas at the helm and in his final season, advanced to the Elite Eight in the 2014 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament, the furthest an SIAC school had advanced in tournament history. Douglas won the 2014 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year award, despite having been suspended for six games in the season after two players suffered heat exhaustion in pre-season workouts, and would then leave the university after a contract dispute.[21][22][23]

After his departure from Tuskegee, Douglas was hired as the head basketball coach at Miles College in 2014.[24] In his second season, Miles won 17 games, more than the school had won in the previous three years combined.[25] Still, he was dismissed after his third season with an overall record of 27-57.[26][27]

After overcoming a cancer diagnosis, Douglas coached high school at Cordova High School in Cordova, Alabama starting in 2019.[28] He also hosted a youth basketball clinic in his home state in 2021.[18][29]

Personal life[edit]

Douglas appeared as a member of the Detroit team in the cult classic basketball film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh in 1979 alongside Pistons teammates Lanier, Eric Money, John Shumate, Chris Ford, and Kevin Porter.[30]

Douglas was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.[31][32] His younger brother John Douglas played college basketball for Kansas, played two seasons in the NBA for the San Diego Clippers and then joined his brother to play in Europe.[33][34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Leon Douglas College Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "Miles College Names Leon Douglas Head Mens Basketball Coach". Miles College. July 31, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  3. ^ "1973-74 Southeastern Conference Season Summary". Sports Reference. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "1973-1974 Men's Basketball Archive". University of Alabama. Archived from the original on April 2, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  5. ^ Pierce, Matthew (October 1, 2015). "The Story Of How The SEC's First All-Black Lineup Changed Hoops Forever". Uproxx. Archived from the original on March 18, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  6. ^ Scarbinsky, Kevin (October 16, 2013). "The University of Alabama basketball program made a stand of its own for civil rights". AL.com. Advance Publications. Archived from the original on March 18, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  7. ^ Evans, Ronald (March 16, 2021). "Alabama Basketball: Complete Crimson Tide NCAA Tournament History". Bama Hammer. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  8. ^ "North Carolina vs. Alabama Box Score, March 13, 1976". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  9. ^ "Indiana vs. Alabama Box Score, March 18, 1976". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  10. ^ "Seventh Pan American Games -- 1975". USA Basketball. June 10, 2020. Archived from the original on March 29, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d "Douglas leaves Stillman to coach Tuskegee". The Tuscaloosa News. July 17, 2006. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  12. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry (October 25, 1976). "Midwest Division". SI.com. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c "Leon Douglas Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  14. ^ Savage, Brendan (June 22, 2012). "Detroit Pistons worst draft picks of all-time: Is there any doubt who is No. 1?". MLive.com. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  15. ^ "Top 15 Worst Draft Mistakes of the Detroit Pistons". TheSportster. April 29, 2016. Archived from the original on March 17, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Kelly Tripucka Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  17. ^ Lazenby, Roland (October 25, 2016). Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant. Little,Brown. ISBN 9780316387149.
  18. ^ a b "How Bama legend Leon Douglas ended up in Walker County". AL.com. Advance Publications. March 5, 2020. Archived from the original on September 18, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  19. ^ "Landing Douglas is a coup for Stillman". The Tuscaloosa News. May 5, 2004. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  20. ^ "Magic City Court Kings". BirminghamProSports.com. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  21. ^ Zenor, John (March 25, 2014). "DII: Leon Douglas leads surprising Tuskegee run". NCAA. Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 11, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  22. ^ "Tuskegee men's basketball coach Leon Douglas resigns". Montgomery Advertiser. July 9, 2014. Archived from the original on August 13, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  23. ^ Rankin, Duane (August 11, 2014). "Commentary: Leon Douglas explains why he left Tuskegee". Montgomery Advertiser. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  24. ^ "Miles hires ex-NBA, Alabama player Leon Douglas". USA Today. Associated Press. July 31, 2014. Archived from the original on March 17, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  25. ^ "Leon Douglas - Men's Basketball Coach". Miles College. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  26. ^ Birdsong, Nick (March 28, 2017). "Three humble suggestions for Florida A&M's next head basketball coach". HBCUSports.com. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  27. ^ Moore, Eric (July 11, 2018). "Fred Watson Leaves Benedict for Miles". Omnidan. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  28. ^ Bentley, Jonathan (February 2, 2020). "Hometown feel brought Leon Douglas to Cordova". Daily Mountain Eagle. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  29. ^ Knight, Nolan (December 20, 2021). "Leon Douglas hosts free basketball camp in Huntsville". WAAY 31 News. Archived from the original on January 28, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  30. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079154/?ref_=nm_ov_bio_lk1[user-generated source]
  31. ^ "Leon Douglas". Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 14, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  32. ^ "Leon Douglas - Alabama Sports Hall of Fame". Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 7, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  33. ^ "John Douglas College Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  34. ^ "John Douglas Stats". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.

External links[edit]