These seasons happen. They aren't fun, but they happen. Players go through slumps, and it's just part of the game. Most guys break out of them within the season, but sometimes they last the entire season. We saw it with Eric May a few years ago and we saw it for the second time with Josh Oglesby this season. When May's happened in his junior year he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to bounce back with a much better senior year. When Josh Oglesby struggled as a sophomore, he came back with a vengeance during his junior year, after seeing a sports psychologist in the offseason. But after the worst slump of his career as a senior, there are no more bounce back opportunities.
Unfortunately, past success does not always predict future success, and Josh Oglesby is your reminder that career development doesn't always move in a positive linear trend line. Sometimes it moves downward, or in Oglesby's case, it moves up and down. Whatever the case, this season was disappointing for Josh. There's no other way to spin it.
Season in Review
I have a theory: Josh Oglesby can only play good basketball in odd-numbered school years. His first and third years on campus? Good. His second and fourth? Bad.
This is a totally facetious theory, of course, but you can clearly see that Oglesby's sophomore and senior seasons were not like his freshman and junior ones. In fact, his performance this season was the worst of his career, according to win shares per 40 minutes.
So why was this year so bad? Well, three-point shooting, of course.
Oglesby does other things on a basketball court, but his main purpose was to give Iowa a sharpshooting threat on the perimeter. And he struggled to do that this year outside of the month of February.
Even in November -- when his points per minute was at the highest of the season thanks to more trips to the free throw line than usual -- Oglesby's scoring was down from where we knew it could be. For a reference point, my little rule of thumb when it comes to judging points per minute goes something like this: greater than 0.50 is a star-caliber offensive player, 0.45-0.49 is a great offensive player, 0.40-0.44 is a very good offensive player, 0.35-0.39 is an above average offensive player, 0.30-0.34 is an average offensive player, and less than 0.30 is not a very good offensive player. Those are rough estimations, of course, but they have been pretty constant over the past five years I have been looking at the stat. Anyway, even at 0.27 in November, Josh Oglesby was not a very good offensive player and he was playing below his freshman and junior season average of 0.34. The Hawkeyes never needed him to be a star, but they needed him to be at least average offensively. And that just didn't happen this year.
Oglesby still brought some other things to the table: namely, his passing ability, basketball IQ, and solid-if-unspectacular defense. But none of those was able to make up for the hole in his game that was left by his three-point shot abandoning him. Fran did what any good coach does with a struggling player, defending him and talking him up in public. But he had no choice but to start giving some of Josh's minutes to Peter Jok and Anthony Clemmons, while also relying on the starters more than the bench guys (outside of Olaseni) as the season wore on.
Josh played well in a reduced role in February and it looked as if the light may have come on. But then March happened, and it was pretty disastrous for him.
The month of March was the absolute worst for Josh, as he actually gave Iowa negative value according to adjusted game score. His average adjusted game score in the month of March was -1.56. Even though he had struggled all season long, this was the only month in which he was in the red.
For as much as I hate sounding negative, this was really a crappy ending to a forgettable season. So let's all agree to just move on.
Again, we have another chart that demonstrates just how up-and-down Oglesby's career at Iowa was.
And, of course, his performance lived and died with his ability to shoot threes. Last year he could shoot with the best of them.
(Shot chart courtesy of Shot Analytics.)
This year, not so much.
He continued to shoot pretty well from the left wing area, but that was about it in 2014-2015.
Struggling from three-point range isn't always a death knell for every player. Some guys can make up for it by attacking the rim and scoring or getting to the free throw line. Some guys can even make up for it by being lockdown defenders. But none of that has ever been Oglesby's game. Instead, he's a shooter first and foremost, who can pass the ball and play defense a little.
As you can see, for three-fourths of his career, Oglesby shot from outside on at least 70% of his attempts from the field.
And we see similar things when we look at his actual scoring. Every year that he wore an Iowa jersey, he scored at least 60% of his points from downtown.
When that much of your value is tied up in shooting from distance, those two years of shooting 27% and 29% from outside are just absolutely killer. And we can use Kenpom to evidence this as well.
The important numbers, outside of Josh's three-point field goal percentage, are his offensive ratings. Keeping with his pattern, Oglesby's offensive ratings were outstanding in his freshman and junior years and pretty horrific (for a guy who is supposed to be mainly a shooter) in his sophomore and senior campaigns. In his junior year, Oglesby's stats drew Kenpom player comparisons to fellow outside snipers Bryn Forbes (Michigan State) and Brady Heslip (Baylor). This year he drew comparisons to guys I have never heard of (What is a Daven Harmeling?).
Oglesby is most likely not playing basketball next year. I mean, if he's really set on playing basketball, he may be able to get himself a shot at playing overseas. If he can rediscover his shot on a consistent basis, he definitely has the size to continue to play after college. But if he continues to struggle with consistency from beyond the arc, the rest of his game isn't going to bring enough value to justify having him on a roster.
But enough with the negativity. As much as it pains me to write about a player on my favorite team going out with a whimper instead of a bang, it most definitely hurt Josh more to play like this. I can say with relative confidence, that this was probably not the senior year he was hoping for. But he didn't just play one year for Iowa, he played four. He gave the Hawkeyes two great seasons, and was a part of McCaffery's rebuilding effort. Josh didn't have to pick Iowa. He was a pretty good recruit coming out of high school, and he could have gone to Minnesota, Illinois, or Arizona State. But he chose Iowa because he wanted to help get the program back to where it used to be. He played a big part in helping Iowa get mad again. But more importantly, he helped Iowa return to respectability.
So wherever Oglesby ends up next year and whatever he is doing, I wish him nothing but the best of luck. He may have had an up-and-down career, but at least we will always have his freshman and junior campaigns.
Next Up: Jarrod Uthoff