A.J. Ogilvy, a 6-10, 250-pound freshman from Sydney, Australia, is the missing link for the Commodores by providing a post presence the team has been lacking for years and years. He's averaging 19.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as a rookie.
"He's a pro," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "They do a great job of getting him the ball in transition. Because you've got (Alex) Gordon and (Shan) Foster out there shooting the 3-ball at the percentage they are – Foster at 51 percent, Gordon at 43 percent – they space it really well. And they've got a guy down there (on the block) that you can't handle one on one."
Dan Langhi was a high-scoring 6-11 standout for Vandy in the late 1990s but he was a finesse player who did most of his damage from the perimeter. Ogilvy is more of a traditional post. Shooting mostly inside, he ranks second among all SEC players in field-goal percentage at 63.9 (115 of 180). Still, he has the touch to hit 79.4 percent (100 of 126) from the foul line.
"His bread and butter is around the basket," Pearl noted. "He's already made 100 free throws. He shoots a great percentage (from the field) and he goes to the line and shoots a great percentage."
Ogilvy seems to be picking up steam. He registered 25 points against South Carolina last Wednesday, then blocked 5 shots against Kentucky on Saturday. Obviously, Tennessee would love to get him in foul trouble Thursday night. The odds are against this happening, however. Ogilvy plays aggressively but intelligently.
"He leads their team in personal fouls but he hasn't fouled out of a game yet," Pearl said.
Like most college freshmen, Ogilvy needs to improve defensively. Even so, he's further along than most freshmen in that area.
"He can block shots and he'll change shots," Pearl noted. "He's very physical. He's a good, solid defender."
Ogilvy isn't afraid to mix it up under the backboards, either.
"He leads them in defensive rebounds," Pearl said. "He's probably a little farther ahead offensively than defensively but he's super solid. Super solid."