Monday, April 26, 2010 Grades A.J.'s Decision to Leave in the D Range

Eammon Brennan grades the early-entry draft class' decision to declare for the NBA Draft. He's not a fan of A.J.'s decision, writing:
Ogilvy needs another year. He has talent, but in a draft this loaded with big men, Ogilvy needs a more versatile offensive game to impress scouts, and he doesn't have it.

I think Brennan is right about the depth of this class' big men, but I don't know that we really know how versatile A.J.'s offensive game can be given how he was used (or misused) in the Commodore system.

Your thoughts?


Andrew Smith said...

AJ will stand a much better chance of making the NBA if he hones his skills in a lesser professional league rather than wasting his time at Vanderbilt. He has spent three seasons with us without developing a lick.

If this is because he's lazy, as most readers of this blog clearly believe, he'll never be much of an NBA player no matter what he does next year. If his failure to develop stems from problems with our coaching staff, as I suspect, then leaving us at least provides him with a chance. Even if it's not the coaching staff, it's easier to develop when you play more games, have no restrictions on practice and have no studies to worry about.

AD said...

"...given how he was used (or misused) in the Commodore system."

I've been off the grid, so I may have missed the discussion of the coaches' improper use of AJ. I now see Andrew's comment above. Is that what you're talking about too, Bobby? That they failed to do something to develop his talent properly? Used him in the wrong sets or schemes?

Apologies to all if this has already been covered.

Aaron said...

He is not ready and i am not sure he ever will step foot on an NBA court.

Seamus O'Toole said...

In the vein of AD's comment, I think we know at least some things about the versatility of AJ's offensive game regardless of the debate over whether he was misused. One that comes to mind off hand is his outside shot, which even at his height he would have trouble releasing in the NBA. AJ pushes the ball out in front of his face in a sort of awkward shooting motion rather than taking it up over his head. Maybe Andrew is right and a year in Europe will allow him to work on that aspect of his game, I don't know. Maybe watch a lot of Dirk Nowitzki highlight videos.

Anonymous said...

He wouldn't even dunk half the time if he was a foot away from the bucket. What a wuss.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Brennan entirely. AJ doesn't have it. What that means is that AJ is not on the same level as professionals athletically. His ball skills and footwork are good enough, but could improve. The main weakness in his game is his complete lack of explosive athleticism and strength. AJ cannot over power anyone in the league, he cannot make a 1 on 1 play with his back to the basket against anyone in the league, and - unlike in college - he cannot blow by anyone in the league.

So what is he going to do in the league? Nothing. The D-league welcomes you AJ.

I'm looking forward to developing our young talent. Big Fez, get some new feet in the offseason baby, I like that hook.

Bobby O'Shea said...

Why are we confident this coaching staff can develop a raw talent like Fez if they couldn't help a polished player like AJ?

Anonymous said...

He is clumsy and he doesn't have any hands. If he can't play against Siena and Murray St, he certainly won't be able to play in the NBA.

Anonymous said...

Bobby, AJ hit an athletic ceiling. He did improve his footwork, shot and range. His numbers faltered because he got noticed, D'ed up, and shut down. Physical play bothered him to the point where he got pushed off the block, mishandled easy balls, and missed easy shots.

More than his athletic limits, AJ seemed content (I won't use lazy since you're such a fan of his) and refused to get tough. That was by far the most frustrating part of watching him play for me, the lack of toughness (note: toughness does not include taking swings).

Fez and Steve have toughness is loads; that'll never go away. They also have great athletic ability, which, with development, can only lead to great things.

I'm confident they can develop because 1) they have the natural ability to expand their game and become a factor, unlike AJ. 2) Ted Skuchas, a nobody who became a role player at that position. If Skuch can be developed in our system anyone can. 3) No one is talking about how great these guys are. AJ bought into the talk, and his work ethic suffered. We won't have to worry about that with these underdogs.

I do honestly believe that Vanderbilt will be better off in 2 years with AJ gone next year. Its a rough reality for a guy who has given our program so much, but I'd desperately like to get this taste out of my mouth.

Seeing off players like Shan Foster, Alex Gordon, and AJ who show little heart and toughness, players who aren't built for undersized, underrated programs is a good thing, regardless of how talented they may be (very).

Seeing in hard-nosed players like Derek Byars, Brad Tinsley (who dunked more often than AJ I'm pretty sure), John Jenkins (Lofton-esqu underrated talent), and our Bigs, Fez and Steve, is what this team needs to succeed in the Vanderbilt system (ie. Mutated Princeton Offense), regardless of how talented they are (very).

Guys that play team ball inside, give us presence, rebounds, and limit turnovers. Guys that shoot, D-up, and have something to prove.

Now that I have wasted sufficient time at work, I gotta go. Be well big dores.

Unknown said...

Can someone provide some specificity to substantiate the suggestion that AJ's failure was due, at least in part, to coaching? Is it entirely based on the opinion that the coaching staff somehow "couldn't help a polished player like AJ?" I know of no specific demonstrable fact to support that.

You cannot coach toughness, desire, and for the most part, work ethic. This will be proven when he does not succeed in the NBA, whether he goes to Europe first or not.

I wish him the best, but I cannot believe his less than glowing scouting reports are more the cause of poor coaching rather than poor effort. This is the same coaching staff who coached the player or co-player of the year as recently as 2006-2007, and 2007-2008. And don't forget the competition for those awards were almost always more highly recruited.

For whatever reason, AJ did not fulfill the promise some of us may have unfairly expected from him. Understanding that, his lack of toughness consistently demonstrated when he played a physical center does not bode well for his NBA future.

Anonymous said...

If CM Newton and Ed Martin could turn a no-talent clumsy dud like Will Perdue who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time into an NBA 1st rounder...then I'd say coaching a big man DOES matter. Even VBK turned Austin Bates into an SEC quality post player.

The current staff is failing in the area of big man development.

Anonymous said...

I think we'll see with Fez and Stevie thunder whether or not the staff can develop big men, and I think the result will be positive. A. J. didn't do the work to develop. He didn't do the work to make the right decision about the NBA either. He left like he played. It will be easier for him to play pro ball in Australia or where ever than to be a Vanderbilt student and face up to SEC big men. Time will settle this debate. Time will show whether the staff develops the big men we still have and time will tell whether playing pro-ball outside the NBA develops A.J. to the point he eventually makes the NBA, but we probably will be paying attention to new issues when time has settles these.

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