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WVRed
07-05-2006, 06:52 PM
To the USC Trojans. Talk about keeping the same colors I guess.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=2510229


O.J. Mayo, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2007, told the USC coaching staff and players last week that he would commit to the Trojans, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

The 6-foot-4 Mayo, as recognizable a high school recruiting name as LeBron James and Greg Oden, made the statement while on his unofficial recruiting visit last week in Los Angeles. He still needs to make that sentiment public, though. He could do so as early as this weekend at the Reebok ABCD Camp on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J.

O.J. Mayo, center.
AP Photo/Al Behrman
Wherever Mayo lands, he will make an immediate splash.

High school recruits often say one thing to a coaching staff to appease them and then sign somewhere else during the fall and spring signing periods, but multiple sources told ESPN.com that the Trojans simply are awaiting official word from Mayo. Even after he makes an announcement, though, the Trojans would have to hang on to his commitment until the November signing period.

NCAA rules forbid college coaches from commenting publicly on commitments until they receive a signed national letter of intent. That said, if Mayo makes it official this weekend -- or anytime before the fall -- he would immediately go down as the most significant recruit in USC basketball history.

Mayo still could still have other alternatives instead of going to college in the fall of 2007. There is a possibility he could go overseas for a year or compete in a barnstorming tour with other high-profile players who are prohibited from entering the NBA draft until they are at least one year out of high school and at least 19 years of age. Details of possible moves like this are expected to be explored in September.

Still, those would be unchartered waters. The more traditional approach for Mayo would be to do what Oden did -- go to school for at least one year. Oden chose Ohio State and is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft if he declares. Mayo, who is still scheduled to finish his high school career at North College Hill in Cincinnati, is a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2008 if he were to declare.

"[Mayo] could change a program and give it instant credibility," said a source. "He sees the big market and knows that he's not too far away from being marketed. [Going to USC] would only help him and he's confident enough to win a national championship."

The assumption for over a year was that Mayo would go to Cincinnati if Bob Huggins were still employed there, or follow him to wherever he landed, which ended up being Kansas State. Multiple sources told ESPN.com, though, that USC coach Tim Floyd received a phone call in November that Mayo was interested.

Mayo then played in an event in Los Angeles in December, with reports surfacing that he was interested in a West Coast school. The assumption at the time was that it was UCLA, but by December, it had been made clear to USC that it was the Trojans, not the Bruins, who were in the hunt.

Multiple sources said that Mayo wanted to be in a major media market and that he told the USC staff that he didn't want to be just another name at a school like Duke or North Carolina. He wanted to win big, go to the NBA and already have been marketed in a media center. Sources also said that Mayo was very aware of the attention that USC's back-to-back Heisman winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart received the past two seasons.

"He's a little bit different for a kid his age," a source said.

Mayo was in Los Angeles last week from Wednesday to Friday. He met with the coaching staff, played with USC's returning players on campus and had a conversation with USC athletic director Mike Garrett. The meeting with USC coach Tim Floyd was the first for both parties. A source said Floyd has only talked to Mayo a handful of times, with Mayo -- more than USC -- leading the recruitment.

That's what makes this even more of a coup for the Trojans, assuming it becomes official. Even though he coached in the NBA at Chicago and New Orleans, Floyd has only had one highly-rated freshman in his college career -- Marcus Fizer, while he was at Iowa State.

The timing of a Mayo commitment couldn't come at a better time for the Trojans. USC is still emotionally spent after dealing with the tragic death of freshman point guard Ryan Francis and also needs to overcome the first-semester ineligibility of star shooting guard Gabe Pruitt. The Trojans are also opening its new arena, the Galen Center, this fall.

A Mayo commitment may lead to another major coup if teammate and close friend Bill Walker, another top-10 player in the class of 2007, were to follow him to USC. The two have said for the past two years that they would play together in college.

cumberlandreds
07-05-2006, 06:56 PM
USC? Now that's a mecca for college basketball.:rolleyes: Maybe he going to try to be a tailback in the fall.

KronoRed
07-05-2006, 06:58 PM
Eh..USC has just made a good offer, now the other schools know what the price to pay is ;)

WVRed
07-05-2006, 07:08 PM
USC? Now that's a mecca for college basketball.:rolleyes: Maybe he going to try to be a tailback in the fall.

Needless to say, I was surprised. I thought Kansas St had him all locked up.

Latest word is that Walker may be following Michael Beasley to Kansas St. Either way, I will definitely be following both Mayo and Walker through college and on to the NBA.

HumnHilghtFreel
07-05-2006, 07:08 PM
My highschool was one game away from playing him in the State playoffs this year, man would we have ever been crushed, but I would have loved to have seen it, lol.

Reds4Life
07-05-2006, 08:31 PM
Mayo has scheduled a press conference tomorrow at the ABCD camp to make it official.

I wouldn't count on Walker going to K-State just yet.

WVRed
07-05-2006, 08:44 PM
Here's what im wondering, why USC? I know they have no track record in the Pac-10, but they are getting new facilities and a new gym, so maybe that might have something to do with it.

There was a rumor on a UK message board that USC was using Snoop Dogg to recruit Mayo.:eek:

Reds4Life
07-05-2006, 09:01 PM
Here's what im wondering, why USC? I know they have no track record in the Pac-10, but they are getting new facilities and a new gym, so maybe that might have something to do with it.

There was a rumor on a UK message board that USC was using Snoop Dogg to recruit Mayo.:eek:

OJ wants to play in a major media market and for a coach with NBA ties, Floyd was the coach of the Chicago Bulls.

While LA is obviously a major media market, I still don't think it's a very good move. The LA media market is pretty region specific. PAC-10 games get little to no coverage in the east or mid-west since they don't come on (if they are on at all, which most aren't) until around 12:30-1:30am.

reds1869
07-05-2006, 09:17 PM
Perhaps he just wants to play at a big school with next to no media spotlight. It's not like NBA scouts will forget he's there, and if he leads SC to big things he'll be a campus hero for life.

MWM
07-05-2006, 09:25 PM
I think the whole OJ Mayo - Bob Huggins relationship was WAY overblown by the local media who were just speculating. He never gave any REAL indication he really wanted to play for Huggins. I don't think he ever had any intention of going to Kansas State. I think those were asusmptions made by everyone but OJ.

Reds4Life
07-05-2006, 09:34 PM
I think the whole OJ Mayo - Bob Huggins relationship was WAY overblown by the local media who were just speculating. He never gave any REAL indication he really wanted to play for Huggins. I don't think he ever had any intention of going to Kansas State. I think those were asusmptions made by everyone but OJ.

If Bob Huggins was still at UC, Mayo and Bill Walker would be signing LOI's to UC. Huggs has been recruiting him since the 7th grade. If Bob was at a major east coast program, I have no doubt OJ would follow. I don't blame him for not wanting to play in Manhattan Kansas, which is in the middle of freakin' no where.

WVRed
07-05-2006, 09:51 PM
Perhaps he just wants to play at a big school with next to no media spotlight. It's not like NBA scouts will forget he's there, and if he leads SC to big things he'll be a campus hero for life.

USC is Los Angeles, and if Walker follows Mayo, USC could be a top 10 preseason program. The media spotlight will follow Mayo wherever he goes just as it did LeBron.

WVRed
07-05-2006, 09:52 PM
OJ wants to play in a major media market and for a coach with NBA ties, Floyd was the coach of the Chicago Bulls.

While LA is obviously a major media market, I still don't think it's a very good move. The LA media market is pretty region specific. PAC-10 games get little to no coverage in the east or mid-west since they don't come on (if they are on at all, which most aren't) until around 12:30-1:30am.

I think Louisville would have been a better choice, but obviously Mayo wouldnt have gotten the media exposure.

Playing in the Big East wouldnt hurt either.

Reds4Life
07-05-2006, 10:05 PM
I think Louisville would have been a better choice, but obviously Mayo wouldnt have gotten the media exposure.

Playing in the Big East wouldnt hurt either.

With the new Big East national TV package with ESPN, plus their deal with CBS, I agree with you 100% he would have been better off at a Big East program.

redsfan30
07-05-2006, 10:24 PM
Very strange move, but not totally out of the blue. USC was always the team in the background, and apparently they pushed hard enough.

I'd be very, very surprised if Bill Walker doesn't end up at Kansas State....Kenan Ellis will most likely stay at home and play for UC.

Reds4Life
07-05-2006, 10:54 PM
Kenan Ellis will most likely stay at home and play for UC.

Ellis hasn't been playing for NCH for a while because he was kicked off the team, I think he's playing somewhere in Indiana right now.

WVRed
07-06-2006, 06:17 AM
Ellis hasn't been playing for NCH for a while because he was kicked off the team, I think he's playing somewhere in Indiana right now.

Yep. UK could be a possibility, but I don't think Tubby is recruiting him very hard. His cousin, John Stewart, had committed to UK before suffering a heart attack during a high school game.

Chip R
07-06-2006, 01:41 PM
Floyd is a very good recruiter. He put together a top notch team while he was at Iowa St. which isn't exactly the easiest place to recruit. He would have got Kirk Heinrich and Nick Collison if he would have stayed there but he left for the Bulls and they went to Kansas. I don't know if USC is the best place for O.J. Floyd's offensive style is somewhat stifling. His teams play great defense but they are very deliberate offensively. It's only for one year but I would think O.J. feels Floyd can give him some pointers on what it takes to play well in the NBA.

CougarQuest
07-06-2006, 02:08 PM
If OJ doesn't change his attitude that he's had for over the past year, he'll remind you of Chris Henry but with a worse attitude towards authority.

reds1869
07-06-2006, 03:26 PM
USC is Los Angeles, and if Walker follows Mayo, USC could be a top 10 preseason program. The media spotlight will follow Mayo wherever he goes just as it did LeBron.

I realize the LA media market itself is big. But college ball is not the be all end all there; it is a background sport. Not to mention that people out east don't generally pay attention to west coast teams, even when they have huge stars. More than that I was pointing out that if he played for UK or UNC the national and local pressure would be far more intense than it will be at SC. Just think of all the people wanting to fire Tubby Smith...the man is only a few years removed from a national title for crying out loud!

dabvu2498
07-06-2006, 03:31 PM
If OJ doesn't change his attitude that he's had for over the past year, he'll remind you of Chris Henry but with a worse attitude towards authority.
My impressions after seeing him play in 7th-11th grades is that his "attitude" has slipped quite a bit. It seems that the move to Cincy, the recruiting and the hype have taken their toll on the kid's psyche and now, he believes in all the BS. Kinda sad, really, because he is REAL good. Not LeBron good, but still very good.

Chip R
07-06-2006, 03:41 PM
Let's hope he doesn't end up like the other O.J. who went to USC.

Reds4Life
07-06-2006, 03:47 PM
I'm not sure OJ has a bad attitude, I've met him 5 or 6 times at different AAU events and he's always been a nice kid, very polite. Kinda quiet actually.

dabvu2498
07-06-2006, 04:26 PM
I'm not sure OJ has a bad attitude, I've met him 5 or 6 times at different AAU events and he's always been a nice kid, very polite. Kinda quiet actually.
I agree... on the court, I like his demeanor... his school discipline record, however, would indicate otherwise.

LoganBuck
07-07-2006, 12:10 AM
I realize the LA media market itself is big. But college ball is not the be all end all there; it is a background sport. Not to mention that people out east don't generally pay attention to west coast teams, even when they have huge stars. More than that I was pointing out that if he played for UK or UNC the national and local pressure would be far more intense than it will be at SC. Just think of all the people wanting to fire Tubby Smith...the man is only a few years removed from a national title for crying out loud!

That UCLA team has a decent history of winning. :) If OJ Mayo wanted to go out west for media reasons, why not UCLA which is obviously light years ahead of USC?

WVRed
07-07-2006, 06:22 AM
That UCLA team has a decent history of winning. :) If OJ Mayo wanted to go out west for media reasons, why not UCLA which is obviously light years ahead of USC?

I think R4L put it best, major media market with an NBA head coach. Ben Howland is a good coach, but he has never coached in the NBA before.

I think Louisville with Pitino would have been a better fit, but thats just me.

Chip R
07-07-2006, 08:59 AM
The problem with playing on the west coast is that you don't get the attention you would if you played on the east coast. USC will be on TV about as much as Duke now but their games will be at 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone. Now there are plenty of schools in major markets on the east coast that he could play at and get more attention. But USC has warm weather, a coach who coached in the NBA and a team that probably needs him more than other teams would.

CougarQuest
07-07-2006, 09:18 PM
I'm not sure OJ has a bad attitude.
I'm quite sure.

WVRed
07-07-2006, 09:56 PM
Apparently Andy Katz was premature in his announcement. OJ is still looking at schools, but USC is leading both Kansas St and Florida. Walker is pretty much a lock to follow Huggins and Beasley to Kansas St.

If Billy Donovan somehow pulls it off, I am going to be ill for a long long time.

BoydsOfSummer
07-08-2006, 08:39 PM
He could've gone to UNC and be their tenth man for 4 years. :D

WVRed
07-08-2006, 08:39 PM
Bigger news is that Bill Walker could be ruled ineligible as early as Monday.


WALKER CASE: Dan Ross, commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, said the OHSAA could announce a verdict in the Walker eligibility case as early as Friday. (Fri.)

“It it’s not (Friday), it will be Monday,” Ross said. “We have a few more records to go over.”

The OHSAA has been investigating whether Walker has exhausted his eligibility, based on a ninth-grade year at Rose Hill Christian in Ashland, Ky., in the 2002-03 school year. Walker was listed as a freshman at Rose Hill during two semesters of the 2002-03 season, which could mean he will be ineligible for the 2006-07 season at North College Hill.

Early word on JJHuddle said that he has already been ruled ineligible.

Reds4Life
07-08-2006, 09:25 PM
Early word on JJHuddle said that he has already been ruled ineligible.

That would be correct.

Expect him to land at Harmony Prep.

dabvu2498
07-08-2006, 09:42 PM
That would be correct.

Expect him to land at Harmony Prep.
I was thinking Maine Central Institute.

guttle11
07-08-2006, 09:43 PM
OJ will go to USC and here's why: The type of basketball that's played in the PAC-10.

Look at how OJ plays, he plays AAU ball all the time. He likes to show off his athletic ability. The Big Ten, Big East, and ACC are all too physical for him, and the Big 12 is just boring. The Pac-10 is more flashy and more like Rec ball.

LA is in that market. If he goes to USC he could be a hero, or at the very least a big attraction for a year or two. If he goes to UCLA, he may just add another banner to the ceiling and just be another great.

He wants to be THE great. That's why he's going to USC. That's why he'll ultimately fail.

dabvu2498
07-08-2006, 09:57 PM
OJ will go to USC and here's why: The type of basketball that's played in the PAC-10.

Look at how OJ plays, he plays AAU ball all the time. He likes to show off his athletic ability. The Big Ten, Big East, and ACC are all too physical for him, and the Big 12 is just boring. The Pac-10 is more flashy and more like Rec ball.

LA is in that market. If he goes to USC he could be a hero, or at the very least a big attraction for a year or two. If he goes to UCLA, he may just add another banner to the ceiling and just be another great.

He wants to be THE great. That's why he's going to USC. That's why he'll ultimately fail.
"THE great"'s stay in college for more than one year or don't go at all. My prediction is that OJ won't still be in LA by Christmas break.

About style of play: I'm sure someone in the SWAC offerred him a ride.

guttle11
07-08-2006, 10:02 PM
About style of play: I'm sure someone in the SWAC offerred him a ride.

Combine big time media market, a somewhat legitimate shot at being a Carmelo Anthony type figure, and the fact that the Pac-10 generally plays a more wide open style of basketball, and it's obvious to see why OJ would go there.

OJ will play at USC for one year. Mark it down.

WVRed
07-09-2006, 08:05 AM
Look at how OJ plays, he plays AAU ball all the time. He likes to show off his athletic ability. The Big Ten, Big East, and ACC are all too physical for him, and the Big 12 is just boring. The Pac-10 is more flashy and more like Rec ball.

What about the SEC? He was looking at Florida too.

LoganBuck
07-09-2006, 03:13 PM
I heard a good point on Mayo the other day possibly by the 2 Angry Guys. When was the last time a 6-3 guard was the first player picked in the NBA draft. Phyically he is not ready for the NBA.

dabvu2498
07-09-2006, 08:58 PM
I heard a good point on Mayo the other day possibly by the 2 Angry Guys. When was the last time a 6-3 guard was the first player picked in the NBA draft. Phyically he is not ready for the NBA.
Have you seen him in person?

LoganBuck
07-09-2006, 10:48 PM
On TV, and he could be thicker. Compare him to top level DI college talent, and he is on the thin side. Versus most high school players he is a man.

dabvu2498
07-10-2006, 09:11 AM
On TV, and he could be thicker. Compare him to top level DI college talent, and he is on the thin side. Versus most high school players he is a man.
You really need to see him up close. Physically speaking, he is sculpted. Remember also, he's going to be playing PG in the NBA, not PF.

My questions about OJ are not physical... they're mental.

WVRed
07-10-2006, 02:21 PM
I heard a good point on Mayo the other day possibly by the 2 Angry Guys. When was the last time a 6-3 guard was the first player picked in the NBA draft. Phyically he is not ready for the NBA.

The last time a PG was selected first overall was in 1979 with Magic Johnson, who was an incredible freak of nature. Another PG selected first overall came in 1960 with Oscar Robertson, who many have compared Mayo to.

WVRed
07-10-2006, 03:38 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jones/060710&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab4pos2


By Bomani Jones
Special to Page 2

The top recruit in the class of 2007 is headed to USC. To play basketball.

Really.

It's been a few days since reports surfaced that O.J. Mayo, the 6-foot-4 point guard prodigy from West Virginia via Cincinnati, plans to take his talents to South Los Angeles. Perhaps the kid loves a challenge and is itching for the chance to show that he is both the most talented and unconventionally named O.J. in Trojan history. (Orenthal James vs. Ovinton J'Anthony? You make the call.) Maybe he's just ready for his close-up. And upon further review, and with that possibility in mind, his decision is as baffling as it first seemed while making all the sense in the world.

O.J. Mayo
Al Behrman/AP Photo
Looks like O.J. Mayo's going to be a Trojan in college as well.

Since when did kids start looking at media markets before choosing schools? Really, who can imagine a kid calling Bobby Knight and saying, "No sir, I really love the striped warmups, but there just ain't enough TV sets 'round here?"

Don't get me wrong -- there are lots of great reasons for a kid from the Midwest to want to live and work in Southern California, especially if he's not paying his own rent. The place has got great weather, smokin' hot women, both beaches and mountains within driving distance, and "Monday Night Football" comes on at 6 p.m. instead of 9. Can't beat that with a bat, Jack.

But the word is that Mayo wants to play for USC because he thinks being in a large media market will build his Q rating, a significant concern since it's more likely that Lew Alcindor will play for the Trojans in 2008-09 than Mayo. (Not to mention that, as ESPN.com's Pat Forde has noted, Reebok powerbroker Sonny Vaccaro lives in Southern California now.)

The kid's logic seems sound on paper. LA's a big place, and USC seemed to do a good job of making household names of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. But who's the last basketball star created by the Cardinal and Gold Talent Agency? Harold Miner, maybe? And did USC really make Miner a star as much as it made fools of those who really believed that he was Baby Jordan?

Historically, market size has only been moderately significant in marketing college athletes. Unlike in pro sports, big collegiate names are often built in locales off the beaten path. Carmelo Anthony was the top small forward in his recruiting class when he went to bask in the dim lights and gray skies of Syracuse. But one year and a national championship later, he left college as a megastar.

Would 'Melo have been a bigger star had he won a chip in New York at St. John's? Probably. But would he have been a big star simply because he played at St. John's? Put it like this -- if that were the case, St. John's would be at the top of a lot more recruits' lists. And they surely would have had the talent to win more than five Big East games last season.

In college hoops, it's not where someone plays that makes him a star, but when someone plays. By "when," I mean March. Or so went the world when I was a kid.

Perhaps that's a na´ve and antiquated outlook. But it seems that, for example, heading to Lexington to play for Big Blue would make Mayo a bigger name than heading to South Central to play for a program that will be fighting USC and UCLA football, UCLA basketball, the Lakers, the Clippers and Brangelina for LA's attention come November.

But this is the kid's call. It seems to be a suspect decision, but no adolescence is complete without a bad decision here and there.

That doesn't mean that the rest of us aren't allowed to be a little disappointed. Fans of nearly every school in America were trying to convince themselves they had a chance at Mayo and his teammate, cousin and fellow ballyhooed recruit Bill Walker. Mayo did little to disappoint them. From a distance, it seemed like a wide-open race as to who could land Mayo and Walker. The pair even kept Florida A&M on their list for a while, enticed by the possibility of taking a small school and putting it on the map.

No one really thought that would happen -- especially not after the Rattlers athletic department ran afoul of the NCAA -- but the pair kept other schools on their list that weren't hoops hotbeds. Former Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins established a relationship with Mayo and Walker before the Bearcats fired him, leaving open the possibility that they would join Huggy Bear at Kansas State. After leaving Indiana after last season, it was believed that current UAB coach Mike Davis was using his access to Mayo as a selling point when he was looking for a job.

Those are big-name coaches, but those have never been big-name basketball schools.

Even those who could care less about recruiting had to look at a kid willing to break the mold and go to a less prestigious program to make his mark. Think about it -- if Bill Snyder was considered a miracle worker for turning K-State into a football powerhouse, what superlatives could be imagined to describe O.J. Mayo taking the Wildcats to the Final Four? And if he could take FAMU to the second round of the Big Dance, his next trick would have to be turning Gatorade into Goldschlager.

So yeah, it would have been cool for him to pursue such a route, and it's a bit of a bummer that he's choosing not to.

But if Mayo knows what he's doing, this should be pretty downright spooky for the NCAA. For years, the NCAA has lamented about the grip sneaker companies have on college basketball. Nike, Reebok and adidas are able to get to the kids before recruiters can and, in many instances, wield more influence than the slick-talking coaches that yearn for the players' services. Though the NCAA would love the world to believe its kids play for the big name on their jerseys, the reality has been that a lot of players are in it for the logos on their feet.

If the esteemed Mr. Forde is right -- as he tends to be -- and Mayo is heading to USC to be close to Vaccaro and what Vaccaro can do for him, then the NCAA is about to have big, big problems. Really, what tangible benefits could an amateur athlete receive from being in Los Angeles, where college sports don't command undivided attention? If a kid's not able to receive a check or cash in on his notoriety while in college, why play in Cali? And between class and the obligations of being a varsity athlete in a revenue sport, how on earth would Mayo find the time to make a star of himself?

Only Vaccaro and Mayo know the real answers to those queries. And they're probably nothing Myles Brand wants to hear. For that matter, they're nothing any fan wants to hear, either.

So instead of breaking the mold and trying to cut his own path during his one -- and definitely no more than one -- year in college, it seems Mayo's taking a new but conventional route. Instead of following a shoe company and using a school's name and prestige to make himself a star, he seems to be following a shoe company and using its location to make himself a star.

If everything with Vaccaro is above board, then this makes no sense. By winning, Mayo would be a star wherever he decided to go. But if this does add up, if Mayo has fame and fortune waiting for him in California, then college basketball is in even worse shape than most of us thought.

And it won't get any better.

Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at bomani@bomanijones.com.

WVRed
07-12-2006, 03:00 PM
Another article from CNN/SI(Seth Davis)

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/seth_davis/07/10/oj.mayo/index.html


Moments after Sunday's senior all-star game at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., had been decided by the ridiculous score of 170-165, O.J. Mayo sat on the Gold team's bench and blithely signed autographs for a half-hour. A 6-foot-5 combo guard who recently completed his junior year at North College Hill High just outside of Cincinnati, Mayo was not given one of the game's MVP awards. Many experts would argue he wasn't the best player in camp. Yet the pen-wielding youngsters had their own ranking system, and Mayo's was the autograph they wanted. Whether he likes it or not, this is O.J. Mayo's reality.

The virtuoso talents behind that celebrity were on display again at ABCD, but that was only a small part of Mayo's story last week. Off the court his week was filled by confusion and rampant speculation about the status of his college recruitment. The circus was just the latest sign that the dysfunction in Mayo's inner circle is taking its toll.

The craziness began a few days before the camp started, when several Internet reports indicated that Mayo had committed to USC during an unofficial campus visit last month. The reports further claimed that Mayo was going to make his decision public at ABCD. Mayo did have a press conference last Thursday, but that session turned into a farce as soon as one of the camp's directors opened by amateurishly instructing the press not to ask Mayo any questions about his recruitment.

The word filtering around the camp later was that Mayo wanted to make an announcement but was implored to wait until he could talk it over with his mother, or at least make sure she was present. When the camp closed three days later, Mayo's mother was still in West Virginia, he still had not made an official announcement and he sounded like one would not be forthcoming anytime soon.

"I'll decide when I decide," Mayo told me on Sunday. "I'm in no rush. I have the rest of the summer and my senior year of high school ahead of me. It's a touch and feel thing. When I feel it's the right time, that's when I'll do it."

This does not mean the early press reports were completely wrong. Mayo has, in fact, been telling the USC coaches for months he wants to go there. He likes the idea of playing in Los Angeles, but he wants to go to a program without a lot of winning tradition because he prefers to start one himself like he has done at North College Hill.

Still, a player telling coaches he wants to go to their school is like a man who tells his girlfriend he wants to get married. Saying it is one thing, getting down on one knee, putting a ring on her finger and walking down the aisle is quite another. When I asked Mayo if he liked USC, he said yes, but he was still considering Florida and Kansas State. That doesn't sound like a firm commitment to me.

On the home front, Mayo is supposed to be under the full-time care of his summer coach Dwaine Barnes, a longtime family friend whom Mayo has often called "my grandfather." Barnes applied to be Mayo's legal guardian before Mayo transferred to North College Hill three years ago (Mayo's mother lives in West Virginia). Yet Mayo confirmed to me last week that Barnes has actually been living for some time in West Virginia, not in Ohio.

Think about that for a moment. Here's an 18-year-old athletic prodigy, a national celebrity who is constantly scrutinized and blandished with temptations, and he lives by himself in the middle of Ohio? With so little guidance from trustworthy adults, it's no wonder Mayo is making increasingly bad decisions. He was suspended three times by his high school this past year alone, the last one coming in April following an altercation with a female student.

Despite those suspensions, Mayo said last week that he expected to be back at North College Hill for his senior season. That, however, was before his best friend and high school teammate Bill Walker, a 6-6 high-riser who had a fabulous week at ABCD, was ruled on Monday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to have exhausted his eligibility. It's doubtful Walker would return to NCH if he can't play ball, and it's inconceivable that Mayo would go back there without Walker.

As if Walker's ruling didn't complicate things enough, Mayo has also had to deal with a rift in his camp pitting Barnes and his mother against Rodney Guillory, an event promoter based in L.A. who has become Mayo's close friend and mentor. (Guillory also has a dodgy past. Six years ago, his relationship with Fresno State's Tito Maddox and USC's Jeff Trepagnier led to suspensions for both players after the NCAA determined Guillory had been working as a runner for an agent.) As one person close to the situation said, "It's like the Hatfields and the McCoys." For now, Mayo has let his mother know he trusts Guillory and he will decide on his own where to play in college.

The distance between Mayo and Barnes was made public in April when Mayo left Barnes' AAU team to play for a different program at a tournament in Houston. When I asked Mayo if he definitely planned on playing with Barnes' team this summer, he replied, "It's definite to me. I guess I'll have to talk it over with my mom." The building estrangement is bad news for Kansas State coach Bob Huggins, since Barnes is the driving force behind the chatter that Mayo was destined to play at K-State. Huggins has been instrumental in lining up local support for Barnes' summer basketball program. Multiple sources have also told me Barnes has received money from North College Hill's games. I'm guessing the NCAA will start sniffing down that money trail at some point.

At this moment, it's hard to tell whether Mayo is honestly confused about what he wants to do or whether he's intentionally throwing outsiders off the scent. "I don't trust a word he says," a recruiting expert told me. Yet, I have seen Mayo interact in enough situations to understand why so many people come away impressed with his character. "He's a great listener, he never talks back, and he's always trying to get better," said former Wright State coach Paul Biancardi, who coached Mayo's team at ABCD last week.

Another camp observer who has dealt frequently with Mayo echoes those sentiments. "He's one of the most mature kids at his age I've ever met," the person said. "He has a strong vision of what he wants to accomplish, and he's extremely driven and competitive. Even in that ridiculous [ABCD] all-star game, at the end there he was guarding as hard as he could and trying to win."

When he finally finished his postgame autograph session, I asked Mayo what was next on his agenda. "It looks like I've got to work on my jump shot," he said with a grin. "I'll go back to the lab when I get home."

That attitude bodes well for Mayo's basketball future, but as he left New Jersey it was hard to shake the disquieting feeling the USS O.J. was fast becoming a rudderless ship.

WVRed
08-15-2006, 08:12 AM
It is official, Mayo committed to the Trojans over the weekend.

Also, Rivals.com now has Mayo and Walker listed at 5 and 6 in the nation now. Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, and Kyle Singler are the top 4.