Greg Doyel (CBS Sportsline)
Ask a college coach if he's trying to recruit Class of 2007 superstar O.J. Mayo, and more than likely he'll tell you no. O.J. Mayo, most coaches seem to believe, wants to play for Cincinnati. So do two of his teammates at North College Hill (Ohio) High, Bill Walker and Keenan Ellis.
Mayo is the No. 1 player in the Class of 2007. Walker might be No. 2. Ellis is generally considered among the top 25. They have said publicly that they want to attend college together, and privately college coaches will tell you they want to attend Cincinnati.
One problem ...
Thanks to the hard-ball tactics of Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher, Bearcats coach Bob Huggins has just two years left on his contract. Apparently, Mayo, Walker and Ellis are hesitant to commit to Cincinnati because, while they want to play for the Bearcats, what they really want is to play for Huggins.
Here's some advice for Mayo, Walker, Ellis and whoever it is that advises that trio: Announce your commitments to Cincinnati now, but make it clear that you'll follow through on those commitments -- which are non-binding -- only if Huggins will be the coach in 2007-08 and beyond.
Let me tell you something. Whichever school signs Mayo, Walker and Ellis will instantly become a 2008 Final Four favorite. With that as a carrot, Cincinnati's biggest boosters would put all kinds of heat on Zimpher to give Huggins an extension.
And if Zimpher still doesn't get the picture? Let her go down in history as the one person who killed Cincinnati basketball.