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October 1, 2009
Vanderbilt returns its entire roster from a team that won 19 games but missed out on a postseason bid last season. The Commodores also added freshman guard John Jenkins, who is expected to provide the outside shooting that was sorely missing last season. Jenkins should provide instant offense to a team that ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring and made fewer 3-pointers than any team in the conference but Alabama. Now the Commodores just need center A.J. Ogilvy to stay healthy for a full season.
Vanderbilt will look for A.J. Ogilvy to become more of a force this season.
Ogilvy averaged 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds to earn second-team All-SEC honors last season, but his season was a mild disappointment. He showed flashes of dominance late but struggled with injuries for most of the season after trying out for the Australian Olympic team the previous summer. Now that he had a chance to rest this offseason, Ogilvy could be poised for an exceptional junior season. Jeffery Taylor showed plenty of promise as a freshman and was Vanderbilt's best player at times last season. The Commodores also are looking forward to the return of Andre Walker, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament while making his first career start early in the 2008-09 season. Festus Ezeli and Steve Tchiengang give Vanderbilt size and depth.
Jenkins could have the biggest impact of any SEC freshman not playing for Kentucky. Jenkins, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, averaged 42.3 points per game his senior year at Station Camp High in the Nashville, Tenn., suburb of Gallatin. Jeremy Beal, who delivered more than twice as many assists as turnovers last year, provides steady leadership at point guard. Brad Tinsley made 40 percent of his 3-point attempts last season and should team with Jenkins to make the Commodores a much-improved team from beyond the arc. Tinsley also has enough experience at point guard to give Beal an occasional rest.
Vanderbilt has cause for optimism even after missing out on the postseason last season. This is an experienced and deep team, and the Commodores welcome Jenkins, the No. 15 prospect in the nation. Throw in the return of a healthy Walker, and there's reason to believe Vanderbilt should earn its third NCAA tournament bid in the past four seasons.
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.