One half of the puzzle is complete. Yesterday, Jeffery Taylor declared his intention to stay at Vanderbilt for the 2010-2011 season. However, one big question still remains - will A.J. Ogilvy stay, or will he go?
Ogilvy is a junior and has yet to declare for the draft, so he has plenty of options in 2010. Don't be surprised if he declares and doesn't hire an agent in order to feel out the scouting process. If he can wow GMs in workouts and get a first round guarantee from a NBA team, don't expect the big man to return to Nashville. However, after a mediocre 2009-2010 and with a game that translates much better on the court than in workouts, the first round of the 2010 draft is probably a longshot. If he isn't pleased with the advice of scouts, then he'll be able to pull his name from the draft and return to Vanderbilt - as long as he doesn't hire an agent.
Taylor's return can be viewed in two ways for Ogilvy. The first, and most beneficial to the Commodores, would be that having The Monarch* man the wing would raise Vanderbilt's profile, and in turn would increase the attention on the big man. A rising tide lifts all ships, and playing on a potential Sweet Sixteen team would give the Australian Sheik* additional media focus and additional chances to impress NBA scouts in order to raise his draft stock. For a player needing to wow some scouts, being a top player on an elite team could do just that. The extra year would also give him the time he needs to put together a consistent season and add some additional facets to his overall game.
Conversely, the other line of thought would be that Taylor's presence would have a negative impact on A.J.. The swingman's decision to stay may challenge Ogilvy's alpha dog status, limiting his chances to grab the spotlight and inflate his statistics. Additionally, Taylor's absence from the draft leaves one fewer player that would be in line for a draft pick ahead of the Aussie, who is generally thought to be a mid-second round pick. This could suggest that 2010 presents the best opportunity for Ogilvy to leave.
The negatives might be short sighted. Though Taylor's presence would affect Ogilvy's amount of touches inside, pro scouts understand that statistics and averages are just a small part of the puzzle. Instead, what they'll be looking at is A.J.'s ability to defend against more athletic big men and if he can add more moves to an already advanced post game. These were two areas that showed little development in 2009-2010, and ideally Ogilvy would opt for another year in the pivot to hone his game - and maybe even get some reps at power forward to showcase some versatility. Above all else, the best way to secure a NBA contract is to become a superior player, and while A.J. has shown great talent, he still hasn't put all the tools together to showcase a unique skillset to bring to the highest level.
In the beginning of the off-season, it appeared that Taylor and Ogilvy were probably going to be a package duo. If one left, the other would likely follow since the departure of either man would distinctly weaken the Commodores in 2010-2011. Having The Monarch* back makes this team stronger, and if teams are keying in on him and John Jenkins on the perimeter, it should help open things up in the interior for A.J. Ogilvy to make some noise. On the other hand, we thought that same thing would happen once Jermaine Beal caught fire early in the season, but instead were faced with inconsistent play from Vanderbilt's best man in the paint.
The risk that Ogilvy leaves is still very real, but it appears that the odds that he'll stay just got a little better with Taylor's intent to return. Much like his sophomore counterpart, Ogilvy would be better served with another year of college ball in order to increase his level of play and secure guaranteed money with a first round draft pick. However, as a big man, the need for players like A.J. is much more dire and despite a lower level of talent, a team needing a center could make him a guarantee and feed him rotation minutes as a rookie. You can't blame the young Australian for wanting to live out his dream and earn a fat paycheck while doing it, but you can root against him in workouts to keep him in Nashville for one more year. That's what I'll be doing, because the Commodores need their senior leader to finally get them back to the Elite Eight and beyond.
*Official AoG approved nicknames. Much like Gretchen Weiners and "fetch", we're going to make these work, dammit.