NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Half a world from home, Vanderbilt freshman A.J. Ogilvy has a one-word answer for questions about changes he's made this semester: ``Heaps.''
Noticing the puzzled look his response brings, the Australian modifies his description to a phrase more common in the U.S.
``A lot,'' he says.
Add understanding slang to the list of adjustments he's making.
``The sayings have probably been the biggest thing to get used to,'' the 6-foot-11, 250-pounder said. ``People here say things like, 'I know, right?' At first, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to answer them or laugh. It seems like everything ends in a question.''
There is no question, Ogilvy has had little trouble adapting to American college basketball. He's helped No. 20 Vanderbilt get to 10-0, its best start since 2003-04.
Ogilvy has started every game and has averaged 19.5 points and 6.6 rebounds. He leads all international freshmen in scoring, ahead of fellow Aussies Aleks Maric (15.9) at Nebraska and Patrick Mills (15.5) at Saint Mary's in California.
``I didn't think he'd be this good,'' Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. ``I guess when you're good, you're good. It doesn't take much adjustment to anything.''
Stallings owes thanks to former Utah coach Ray Giacoletti for finding Ogilvy. Giacoletti lacked scholarships and didn't need another inside bruiser, so he told Stallings about Ogilvy and members of the Vanderbilt staff made three visits to Sydney.
Ogilvy wanted to follow fellow Aussie Andrew Bogut to Utah, where Bogut had played his way to become the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NBA draft. But with Utah unable to offer a scholarship, Vanderbilt moved to the front of the schools pursuing Ogilvy.
``Another Australian named Andrew going to Utah might have been weird anyway,'' Ogilvy said. ``Too many similarities.''
With his accent and his performance on the court, Ogilvy hasn't had any problems standing out in Nashville.
Playing in front of crowds of more than 14,000 at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym has been quite a change from Australia, where Ogilvy played on the junior national team. He said the biggest crowd he'd ever played in front of before arriving at Vanderbilt was about 4,000.
Ogilvy's arrival has eased the loss of Derrick Byars, the 2006-07 SEC coaches' player of the year as a senior, by giving the Commodores a potent inside presence to complement senior guard/forward Shan Foster. Ogilvy had his first NCAA double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-67 win over Lipscomb on Dec. 9.
His teammates like his hard work, the angles he takes, his fouls and the way he makes passes through tight lanes.
``I think he's adjusted better and faster than most freshmen,'' Foster said. ``He has so much experience playing internationally, he's miles ahead of most players. He's always thinking a move ahead.''
Ogilvy already has earned opponents' respect.
He's drawing double teams that free teammates for open looks and has scored in double figures in each game. He's already attracting scouts, leading to speculation he might bolt early for the NBA.
Stallings isn't ready to anoint him as the next Will Perdue, considered the best big man in Vanderbilt history.
``I'm still not of the mind-set yet that he's a one-and-done guy,'' Stallings said. ``I'm not there yet. I'm awfully glad to have him, and I wouldn't trade him for anybody in the nation. But he's got a lot of progress that he needs to make.''
Ogilvy is learning off the court, too.
``We ask him about things from time to time to make sure he's not lost,'' Stallings said. ``He'll usually give us a pretty humorous explanation.''
During Thanksgiving, which Ogilvy knew little about, he wasn't quite sure what to do. His teammates educated him, and Ogilvy gave them a few laughs along the way.
``I thought it was great,'' Ogilvy said. ``I'm all for any holiday where you stuff food into other food.''
Talking to his parents, Paul and Aileen 17 time zones ahead in Sydney, just once a week has been a challenge.
He calls them every Saturday night, when it's Sunday afternoon back home. And he's saving newspaper articles to share with family and friends who can't follow him from afar.
``The first couple weeks it was tough,'' he said. ``Just living in a new place, the time difference, not knowing anyone. After the first couple of weeks, I just realized it was part of the deal. This is what I wanted to be doing.''
He's already improved his communication skills to the point where he'll sometimes say things to purposely leave his teammates confused.
``I definitely trip them up,'' he said. ``Sometimes they don't know what hit them.''
Kind of the way he's been leaving opponents feeling, too.
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