A.J. Ogilvy Declares for NBA Draft: What Will Be His Legacy?
Center A.J. Ogilvy ended weeks of speculation among Vanderbilt fans Thursday by announcing he would forgo his senior season to enter the NBA Draft and would hire an agent.
His time with the Commodores, just like that, has ended.
What a roller coaster it was. To some, a gifted big man with unlimited potential. To others, a poster boy for underachievement.
His career at Vanderbilt lent credence to both viewpoints. Departing for the professional ranks in the wake of Vanderbilt's crushing loss to Murray State in the NCAA Tournament, Ogilvy will leave with just that legacy: a good player, not a great one.
I wish him luck in his next step, but the NBA seems like a bit of a pipe dream.
Most prognostications have him either as a second-round pick or simply going undrafted. In either case, the chances of him suiting up for an NBA team next season are highly unlikely; not even Commodore stars Shan Foster and Derrick Byars have been able to see time in an NBA game. More than likely, he'll wind up overseas.
But Ogilvy has to do what he feels is best.
Whether that was actually the best move, though, is up for debate. I think he would have been wise to stay a year, improve his game and become more physical. He would have been better for it.
In addition, and I speak selfishly here, the Commodores would certainly have been better for it.
But he's decided now is the time to leave a program that he left an indelible mark on the past three seasons.
Ogilvy began his career at Vanderbilt with high expectations, and his first season lived up to them. He set the Commodore freshman scoring record and was a solid 1-2, inside-outside punch alongside Foster, Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer. The Commodores won 25 regular season games and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament before being upset by Siena.
With Foster gone the next season, however, it was on Ogilvy to shoulder the scoring load. And that was where the consistent inconsistency began that made Ogilvy such a maddening player. There was no player that inspired more frustration among Commodore fans, perhaps because of the huge potential inspired by his terrific freshman campaign.
One day a big man who could knock down free throws, be a dominant force in the paint and effectively take over a game. The next time, a softie, getting out-hustled and out-rebounded by smaller opponents, missing crucial shots and being a non-factor.
Sometimes he seemed energetic and emotional, and other times he seemed lethargic and apathetic.
When he showed up, Vanderbilt was nearly unstoppable; the Commodores went 22-1 over his three seasons when he scored at least 20 points. When Ogilvy had a double-double, they were 9-1.
When he didn't show up, the Commodores were one-dimensional and it resulted in losses. Vanderbilt was a mere 3-10 when Ogilvy scored in single digits.
Worse, Ogilvy's performances dipped when the times mattered most, in March. During his tenure, Vanderbilt went 2-5 in postseason play, including a pair of first-round NCAA flameouts. His shooting percentages and rebounding totals went down, and, as he went the past two seasons, so did the Commodores.
Let's not forget Ogilvy's time in Nashville was in many ways a success. Vanderbilt went 26-8, 19-12 and 24-9 during his three years, and he was All-SEC every season. Two NCAA berths in three years is nothing to sniff at, and he's only the second player in Commodore history to score 1,000 points and record 100 blocks.
Vanderbilt was absolutely a better basketball team with A.J. Ogilvy than without him.
And it's also important to note that he's a humble, friendly guy who doesn't live and die by basketball, which, in some ways, is a refreshing attitude for student-athletes.
But there were no NCAA tournament wins. No SEC titles. No top-10 rankings. No one will be retiring his jersey.
But a lot of people at Vanderbilt will miss him. And he'll miss a chance to end his career on a positive note.
So what will Commodore fans remember him for?
Ogilvy started his college tenure as the toast of Nashville, winning his first 16 games. He ended it flat on his back, hands over his face in disbelief when Murray State swished a game-winning jumper.
It was a brutal end to the season, but it was also a cruel way to end a good career that could have been great.
And with Ogilvy leaving, that's how his legacy will stay.
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