BY MATT MCQUADE
On the heels of their most successful campaign since re-entering the National Basketball League in 2010, the Sydney Kings have engineered a stunning coup with the signing of Australian big man Andrew James ‘AJ’ Ogilvy for the 2013/14 season.
At just 24 years of age, the 6’11” (211cm), 249lb (113kg) power forward/centre has already established himself as one of Australia’s most exciting frontcourt talents, putting himself on the world map through a number of impressive performances in Europe after a stellar three year career at Vanderbilt University in the United States, where he played in the ultra-competitive South Eastern Conference and took his school to the NCAA Tournament in both his freshman and junior seasons.
The Sydney-born and raised Ogilvy also had an outstanding junior career in Australia, where he played for the Australian Institute of Sport and represented his country at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in 2007.
AJ was a standout in that tournament, averaging 22.3 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 69 percent from the field and 78.8 percent from the foul line in nine games, finishing third in scoring and producing six double-doubles, including a 32 point, 11 rebound performance against Spain. He keyed Australia’s sweep of Group F in the minor rounds and helped the team finish fifth with an 8-1 record after an upset loss to Brazil in the quarter final.
He immediately became one of the top big men in US college basketball upon his arrival at Vanderbilt, starting 33 games as a freshman and averaging 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game while shooting an excellent 58.8% from the field. He was a dominant force inside in taking the Commodores to a perfect 19-0 record at home and a 26-8 mark overall as they earned a spot in the NCAAs at season’s end, and he was named to the SEC All Freshman Team.
Ogilvy continued that fine play throughout the rest of his college career, finishing his stint at Vanderbilt in 2010 as one of the top 15 scorers in school history and only the second Vanderbilt player ever to record 1,000 points and 100 blocks.
"We certainly appreciate everything A.J. has done, both on and off the floor, at Vanderbilt," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings at a press conference where Ogilvy announced he was leaving the Commodores to enter the NBA draft.
"He has had a very accomplished career, and will hopefully experience the same kind of success as a professional. A.J. has been instrumental in our two NCAA Tournament berths in the last three years and has demonstrated a very good work ethic from the very first day he walked on campus."
It was predicted by many observers that the highly skilled Ogilvy would be a late first round selection to the NBA, but unfortunately his name wasn’t called on draft night. However, after playing for the Chicago Bulls in the 2010 NBA summer league, AJ signed a deal to play for the powerful Besiktas club in the Turkish League, and he performed well in his pro debut, averaging 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and shooting over 60% from the field in helping his team to an appearance in the Eurocup competition.
Since then, AJ played a season in Spain with Valencia, and is coming off a campaign with Brose Baskets in Germany, where he played in the second best basketball competition in the world behind the NBA, the powerful Euroleague, gaining valuable experience in games against some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos.
He has also represented Australia over the last couple of years, playing for the Boomers in some big overseas tournaments, and he barely missed selection to the team that went to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Understandably, Sydney Kings Head Coach Shane Heal is thrilled to add a player of Ogilvy’s calibre to the roster, where he will form an impressive frontline tandem with 2012/13 All NBL Third Team selection Ian Crosswhite.
“I am so excited to have landed AJ for next season,” the ‘Hammer’ stated.
“He is a quality person and an extremely talented basketball player. He will fit straight into our culture and help us build with the right attitude and leadership, is hungry to do the work necessary to continue to improve his game, and hopefully this leads to him becoming a Boomer at the 2014 World Championships.”
Shane further commented on the importance of getting outstanding Australian talent into his program.
“AJ is a Sydney local and I'm sure that our fans will be excited about this signing,” he said.
“Our program must be built around quality Australians that are motivated to reach the very top and can use their talents to help the Sydney Kings become a powerhouse once again. I can't wait to work with AJ again after first getting to know him about four years ago when I was the assistant coach for the Australian Boomers. I was very impressed with his game and his passion for the sport.”
“His international experience is a real asset for us, and I'm confident he will also add leadership to our team in many areas.”
For his part, AJ is looking forward to returning to the city where he grew up; pulling on the famous purple and gold and is looking to help the Sydney Kings reach their goal of a National Basketball League championship.
“I am very excited to be a part of such a storied club and I hope with the help of the Sydney Kings' fans and the people of Sydney we can return this team to the perennial championship contenders that they once were,” he said.
“I will bring versatility and a competitive spirit to the team. I am a fairly resourceful offensive player and hopefully I can help the Kings in that way. I will also bring a high work ethic and an eagerness for hard work.”
“The appeal of signing with the Kings was two-fold for me. One is to play immediately and have a large role in the team; the other is being closer to my family and friends and having them see me play.”
“Ultimately, the thing that I am most looking forward to is being able to step into a team that had a successful season in 2012/13 and have an opportunity to play a role in helping them take that next step forward.”
Ogilvy’s addition is just the first of some very important offseason signings for the Kings as the team continues to build on an impressive 2012/13 campaign that saw them win 12 games and make an appearance in the semi finals.
Making the 12/13 NBL playoffs was one more step on the road to a title for the Sydney Kings. And the signing of AJ Ogilvy is a clear indication of the organisation’s commitment to putting a team on the floor next season that will be a strong championship contender and represent the city of Sydney with great pride.
So make sure you get on board for what will be a thrilling ride! Early Bird memberships at discounted rates are now available, so take advantage of these great offers and secure your seat for every home game at the Crown Kingdome in the 2013/14 National Basketball League season! Help the team achieve their goal of three thousand members, and become a part of the tremendous atmosphere and unmatched excitement of Sydney Kings basketball!
Sydney Kings. My City. My Team.
AJ Ogilvy Profile
Position: Power Forward/Centre
Born: 17 June, 1988
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
High School: Oakhill College, Sydney
College: Vanderbilt University, USA
Australian Representative, FIBA Under 19 World Championships 2007
Chicago Bulls, NBA Summer League
Beşiktaş Cola Turka, Turkey
Power Electronics Valencia, Spain
Brose Baskets, Germany