Sherman Douglas, arguably the best guard in the metropolitan area, opened the 1984-85 basketball season with 48 points in a victory over DuVal. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder closed the season by scoring a game-high 14 points to lead No. 1-ranked Spingarn to a 54-46 victory over DeMatha in the city title game.
"I love him, I love him, I love him," said University of Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, after watching Douglas perform for the first time. "He creates things. You build programs around players like him."
"He generates electricity," said Maryland player Adrian Branch. "He makes things happen and eludes defenders in the open court like a magician."
About the only thing Douglas has eluded more successfully than defenders this season has been college scouts. Along with DeMatha's 6-11 Danny Ferry, Douglas is the most sought-after player in the area.
There isn't a clue about where Douglas plans to attend college and he has not narrowed the list. All Spingarn Coach John Wood will say is that "he is heavily recruited. Wherever he can get a decent education, wherever he can get along with the coach and players, that's where I would advise him to go."
Sherman Douglas directed Spingarn to a 31-0 record. He does things in mid-air -- he has excellent hang time -- that most players can only dream about. He is a show-stopping ball handler and passer and one of the best penetrators in the area. He is virtually unstoppable inside and shoots layups against zones. He has exceptional hand quickness, which allows him to make steals with great regularity (he averaged four a game).
"Great court awareness. That's one of his greatest assets," Wood said. "On the open floor he has a lot of quickness and is very deceptive."
"Looking back in the past, he is the best guard to come out of Spingarn High since (former NBA all-star) Dave Bing," DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten said. "He's a complete player. He had a year most players dream of."
Indeed, he did. Looking back at the 1984-85 season, listing all of Douglas' accomplishments is like sitting down and writing an epic. He has done it all.
An all-Met selection as a junior, Douglas scored a league-high 792 points, averaging 26 points a game, second-best in the area (Earl Moore of Cardozo was first at 28.4). Nine times, Douglas scored 30 or more points, and five times he scored 29 points. He also averaged six assists and five rebounds.
Those credentials have earned him a spot on this year's Capital Classic Metro all-star team, on which he will play alongside Moore.
Off the court, Douglas is as smooth as his play is on the wooden floor. He doesn't have a fancy nickname and is most difficult to recognize when not in uniform.
After Douglas finished scoring a game-high 29 points against H.D Woodson, he quickly showered, slipped into a comfortable pair of creased blue jeans, a green waist-length jacket and a pair of black leather shoes. The wire-framed glasses he wore made him almost unnoticeable, and a book bag in his left hand gave him the feature of another student in the crowd.
Leaning against the Spingarn gymnasium wall, he watched quietly as the Spingarn girls team played top-ranked Woodson and paid little attention to Wood talking to numerous scouts.
On the court, Douglas is the same way. He is always calm, alert and shows little panic.
Take, for example, Spingarn's third meeting with Woodson at UDC's Physical Activities Center, in the Interhigh tournament before a crowd of 1,000. Woodson had raced to a 13-point second-quarter lead and it appeared that the Green Wave's 28-game winning streak was in jeopardy.
"I don't know if we got too relaxed or not. We had the crowd behind us and all the momentum in the world," Woodson guard Henry Ellis said. "Maybe it was the play of Douglas. He injects a certain dimension into his team's style of play with his magical moves."
Spingarn forward Manuel Jones rebounded and found Douglas at midcourt. By the time he reached the foul line, he did a between-the-legs hesitation dribble, which culminated in a no-look, under-the-armpit pass to guard Robert Smith for an uncontested layup. Spingarn began to roll.
"Sherman always keeps a very cool head," said Wood. "When games are close he just gets that extra incentive to play even harder."
"He's a complete player, has all the tools and is always in control," said Sherman Dillard, an assistant coach at Maryland. "People criticize his size, but he makes up for it by giving 110 percent every game."
"You can't stop him. You can only try to keep him within reason," said Wootten. "Try double- or triple-teaming him, and he'll find a way to burn you."