By PETE IACOBELLI AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C.(AP)—Clemson coach Oliver Purnell was eating breakfast along South Carolina’s coast when he found out he had a very big hole to fill in next year’s starting lineup.
Terrence Oglesby, the Tigers’ shoot-from-anywhere sophomore, called Purnell on Tuesday morning to tell him he was off to play professionally in Europe, giving up his final two college seasons.
Oglesby, from Cleveland, Tenn., led the team with 92 3-pointers last season and was often an offensive catalyst in Clemson’s NCAA season. But he’ll be remembered by some for his final act with the Tigers, throwing an intention elbow to Michigan’s Stu Douglass and getting ejected from the first-round NCAA loss to the Wolverines.
Purnell had had several conversations with Oglesby since season’s end to discuss 2009-10 and was blindsided by his guard’s decision.
“I’m disappointed he won’t be with us,” Purnell said Wednesday. “Yet at the same time, it’s a decision I believe he made in concert with his family. It is what it is.”
Oglesby finished as the team’s third-leading scorer last season behind Trevor Booker and K.C. Rivers. Oglesby and Rivers, a senior last season, accounted for 161 of Clemson’s 256 3-pointers this past winter.
Oglesby’s father, Tony, played basketball in Europe. Terrence was born in Norway and played for that country in the FIBA under-20 championships in 2008.
Oglesby said in a statement released by the school that he had played internationally in the past and got the chance to play professionally in Europe. He enjoyed his time at Clemson. “My decision is based solely on chasing the dream of being a professional basketball player,” he said.
E-mails sent to Oglesby were not immediately returned. Messages left for his father, Tony, were also not returned.
Purnell figured to score his biggest recruiting win in March when power forward Trevor Booker, the team’s top scorer and rebounder last season, decided to return for his senior year instead of declaring for the NBA draft.
Purnell had also landed perhaps his best group of newcomers since arriving at Clemson before the 2003-04 season, featuring highly regarded Milton Jennings and Booker’s younger brother, Devin.
Now, Purnell and his staff will be left without the outside threat who thrilled fans with his gumption to take – and make - shots from almost anywhere inside the half-court line.
Don’t look for anyone on Clemson’s roster to take over that role.
“It’s clear that we don’t have anybody with Terrence Oglesby’s range,” Purnell said. “You won’t see the shots that you’ve seen the previous two years.”
Still, someone will have to make up for Oglesby’s output. He started all but one of Clemson’s 32 games last season and led the team in scoring 12 times. He set his career high of 25 last December in a victory over state rival South Carolina.
Tanner Smith, a sophomore, next fall is likely to see even more minutes in the backcourt, along with newcomer Donte Hill and perhaps, Purnell hinted, the 6-foot-9 Trevor Booker who nailed 9 of 22 3-pointers last year.
Purnell only wishes Oglesby had given him time to weigh in before choosing Europe, apparently a trendy path among some U.S. players like Florida’s Nick Calathes and high school senior-to-be from San Diego, Jeremy Tyler.
Purnell has heard many good things about playing in Europe. He’s also described “horror stories” of not getting paid, or getting cut suddenly.
“I don’t know what influenced his decision,” the coach said.