RICHLAND — By the time Calvin Douglas arrived at Richland High School, even before he stepped on the basketball court for Bombers coach Earl Streufert, his reputation preceded him.
The stories about the lanky middle schooler from Carmichael dominating around the basket were well documented and only added to his rising star.
"I knew he was a 6-foot-something kid who could throw down in the eighth grade," said Richland guard Grant Gallinger, a former middle school rival. "That was pretty dang intimidating. I was still trying to touch the rim."
Streufert had scouted the young post and thought enough of him to bring him up to varsity for his freshman season. After just a few games, it was clear that Douglas was up to the challenge.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
"I remember one of the first games we played him was here against Pasco. He was going against (Seattle University forward Gavin) Gilmore and the place was packed," Streufert said. "The first time he touched the ball, he put up a soft little jump hook from the corner, and the look on Gilmore's face was like, 'Who the hell is this kid?' He also blocked Gilmore twice that game. So it was a pretty good coming out party for a freshman."
It was a memorable moment for several reasons. It was Douglas' first taste of a big game in front of a packed Art Dawald Gym, something the 6-foot-6 senior has come to love. It also raised the bar of expectations for Douglas, who looked like a potential Division-I prospect after just a few games.
"I always remember that one because I thought, 'Well, we'll find out if he can play. We'll find out if what we think is true is really true,' " Streufert said.
The good news for Streufert was that Douglas, now nearing the end of four dedicated seasons with the Bombers, has become one of the most prolific rebounders and post defenders in school history.
"He's really had such a nice career for us and done so many things," Streufert said. "He's been a part of two district championship teams, three regional teams and an eighth-place finish at state. He's truly an unselfish player and a pleasure to coach."
And he's done it fighting through a stress fracture in his left foot that has hampered him for most of his career. In fact, Douglas may have been a standout football player for Richland -- he worked out with the JV-varsity unit during practice his freshman year -- if not for his damaged wheel.
"Every year (football coach Mike Neidhold) would try to get me on the football field. My feet were just too bad," said Douglas, who is using orthotic gel devices in his shoes this year to help relieve the pain during games.
Through 94 games since his freshman season, Douglas has averaged nearly a double-double at 9.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.
This season, he leads the team with 14 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and he's increased his defensive presence with 2.3 blocks a game.
Douglas takes great pride in his defense, especially when he can swat away a shot with emphasis -- like he did in a 62-42 win over Walla Walla last Friday when Matt Watson tried unsuccessfully to drive the lane.
"I saw it coming in slow motion. When I saw him coming I'm like, 'I'm getting this. He is not coming in here,' " Douglas said.
While his feet may have kept him from fulfilling some of those lofty expectations at the beginning of his prep hoops career, it hasn't stopped him from building some great memories with the Bombers.
"I love the excitement of the crowd. When everything comes together like that, you get this feeling inside you that you want to do something great," Douglas said. "When you hear the crowd yelling, it really gets you fired up."
This weekend will certainly give the two-time All-CBBN selection another chance to play in front of a capacity crowd at Art Dawald for the Bombers' CBBN 4A rematch with Chiawana. The first time these teams met on Jan. 7 in Pasco, it produced an exhilarating overtime finish and a 91-87 Riverhawks win.
Douglas had quite an impact in that one, too, scoring 24 points with 15 rebounds. Not that you have to remind Chiawana coach Chad Herron.
"He has an excellent feel for the game, and he's easily one of the best post passers you'll see," Herron said. "The first couple of years we would double team him so he couldn't score on the low block, but his junior year he started to find the open man. He's a zone buster all by himself."
The wealth of good shooters at Richland has made Douglas virtually a secondary offensive option for most of his career, but he's hoping to expand his offensive skills at the next level.
Douglas said he's been contacted by the University of San Diego, Seattle University and the University of Portland but also has considered staying close to home at Columbia Basin College.
But for now, he wouldn't change anything.
"(Kamiakin senior) Case Rada told me, 'You know, Cal, for Christmas or your birthday I'm going to send you transfer papers to come over here.' His dad always told me how good I looked in red," Douglas said.
"But I'm a Bomber through and through."