Michael Downing has very little free time – and that’s the way he likes it.
The Augusta Prep junior was an all-state tight end for the Cavaliers’ football team. He also is a starting forward on the basketball team, and at the end of basketball season he’ll step behind the plate as the school’s baseball catcher.
“I just love it because I’ve never done anything else,” said Downing of his multiple-sport schedule. “When I was in seventh grade, I took a season off and I was bored to death. It was terrible. We didn’t have football at my middle school and I didn’t want to run cross country, so I didn’t have anything to do.”
If he could play only one, basketball would be his sport of choice.
“I love football and baseball both, but basketball always has been the most fun, most exciting,” he said. “For me, I could play basketball all day long and not get tired.”
Downing played all 26 games as a sophomore for the basketball team, finishing the season as the team’s leading scorer (10.1 points per game) and rebounder (7.2 per game). The team entered the second half of its season Saturday with Downing once again the leader in both categories. Having exceptional ball-handling skills helps the 6-foot-3 Downing.
“I’ve always played big man-ish, but this year I’ve done more small forward,” Downing said. “And it’s nice to be able to dribble the ball down the court because a lot of the time, the guy guarding me is not gonna be quick and try to steal it.”
While leading on the stat sheet, Downing is also exhibiting leadership on a young team. Playing other sports, especially baseball, has helped him develop those skills.
“My coach in baseball really stressed that you have to be vocal and run the show from there (catcher) and I think that helped me a lot to grow as a leader,” Downing said.
Head basketball coach Mike Guthrie likes the way Downing is carrying himself.
“Last year, he was our leading scorer and this year as well,” said Guthrie. “He’s our best rebounder and he’s very unselfish at the same time. I love to see that in a player when they have great skills. It’s just his ability to lead the team and play as a team player and dedicate himself to it, that is awesome.”
Helping him adjust to basketball after football season was Downing’s 14-year-old brother, Miles,
“The first week is always kind of rough, but it’s usually not too bad,” said Downing. “I play basketball at the house with my brother. That’s all we do.”
Miles, who attends Episcopal Day School, will be a freshman next year at Prep and could be on the same team with his older brother.
“I think it’d be awesome,” said Downing. “It’d be different. I’ve never really played with him for real.”
While it is still a ways off, Downing is interested in playing basketball – or any of his other sports – at the collegiate level. He is taking steps to improve those chances.
“I know one thing for football; my coach says if you want to do something at the next level, you’ve got to get stronger, get faster, get quicker,” he said. “And for me, wanting to do something at the next level, that drives me to get in the weight room and do everything I need to do, and work harder and keep getting better.”