Dou­glas’ can­vas a blank score­sheet

Tim­ing, en­ergy the se­cret in­gre­di­ents for shot-block­ing artist

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS - BY WAYNE EPPS JR.

If there’s an art to shot block­ing, the ba­sis is tim­ing.

It’s know­ing where to be at the right time, when to jump.

“And then, if you have length, long arms, be­ing able to get your hands up fast enough,” VCU’s Corey Dou­glas said.

Dou­glas would know. Dou­glas’ block per­cent­age (his per­cent­age of op­po­nent 2-point at­tempts blocked while on the court) of 13.03 ranks

15th in Di­vi­sion I, ac­cord­ing to KenPom.com.

His 2.38 blocks per game are tied for 28th in the coun­try.

After ty­ing his ca­reer high with four blocks against Iona, Dou­glas had three against Texas.

Asked about how he ap­proaches play­ing de­fense, Dou­glas said first and fore­most he feels like he has to bring en­ergy on the floor.

“And just be ac­tive as much as pos­si­ble,” he said.

Block­ing shots isn’t any­thing new for Dou­glas. He’s been do­ing it since he was a 6-foot-4 sopho­more at Bal­lard High School in Louisville.

He still played in the post at that height.

“We had a re­ally tal­ented team, so there was no way I was go­ing to get on the floor play­ing the wing,” he said. “And our coach, Coach Ren­ner at Bal­lard, he gave me the op­tion, he said, ‘If you could play down low, there’s min­utes for you.’ “

Dou­glas had an­other growth spurt ahead of his ju­nior year, reach­ing over 6-6. He set Bal­lard’s sin­gle-sea­son record for blocks as a se­nior.

Af­ter­ward, he played a post­grad­u­ate sea­son at Fork Union, dur­ing which he av­er­aged 14.1 points, 12.8 re­bounds and 2.8 blocks.

While at Rice, cur­rent VCU coach Mike Rhoades re­cruited Dou­glas to play for the Owls as part of the 2016 class.

How­ever, a hip in­jury cut Dou­glas’ fresh­man sea­son short after nine games, and he red­shirted. After Rhoades was hired at VCU in March 2017, Dou­glas trans­ferred from Rice to Tallahassee Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

He com­mit­ted to

VCU that June to re­join Rhoades in Rich­mond, be­fore av­er­ag­ing 13.3 points, 7.9 re­bounds and 2.7 blocks in Tallahassee last sea­son.

As­sis­tant Brent Scott, who works with the Rams’ bigs, has coached Dou­glas at both Rice and VCU. He said he’s seen Dou­glas grow as both a per­son and a player.

He said Dou­glas is about the right things.

“First and fore­most, he’s a great, great dude. Hard worker,” Scott said. “And just, he wants to do what­ever he can to help the team win.”

That in­cludes a bit of a phys­i­cal re­vamp this past off­sea­son. When Dou­glas ar­rived at VCU ahead of this year’s sum­mer pro­gram, he was 190 pounds. He’s since put on about 25 pounds.

Dou­glas said the added weight has changed his game com­pletely.

“Be­ing able to just hold my own and then im­pose my will on some peo­ple, too,” he said. “And be­ing able to knock peo­ple around, and then hold my ground when I’m post­ing up and ev­ery­thing.”

As the sea­son pro­gresses, Dou­glas said he wants to keep work­ing on his of­fen­sive game. He’s av­er­ag­ing 3.1 points in

19.8 min­utes right now.

But Dou­glas may just be scratch­ing the sur­face. After his in­jury at Rice, he’s still only played in 18 Di­vi­sion I games.

“I think he’s go­ing to con­tinue to get bet­ter,” Scott said. “Once again, just be­cause of the type of kid he is and his work ethic.”

DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Corey Dou­glas, seen block­ing a shot last month against Hof­s­tra, is hop­ing to ex­pand his of­fen­sive game as VCU’s sea­son pro­gresses.

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