|- Mid-range game|
|- Scoring instincts|
|- Ability to create w/either hand|
|- Excellent hands|
|- Ability to get in passing lanes|
|- Perimeter defense|
|- Basketball IQ|
|- Work ethic|
|- High-level productivity|
|- Positional versatility|
|- Court vision|
|- Body control|
|- Size for position|
|- Ability to come off screens|
|- Ability to create separation from defender|
|- NBA 3-point range|
|- Ability to get to free throw line|
|- Decision making|
|- Stuck between 1 and 2|
|- Turnover prone|
|- Ability to create own shot|
|- Older than class peers|
|- Ability to finish around basket|
|- Average wingspan|
|- Low shooting percentages|
|- Relies too heavily on outside shot|
|DraftExpress: A lot of people bringing up O.J. Mayo. I strongly disagree. Mayo was and is a real combo guard. Just not that athletic. Not comparable IMO.|
|DraftExpress: Doing some database maintenance today. Anyone know whatever happened to O.J. Mayo's HS teammate Keenan Ellis? Disappeared off face of earth?|
|Did he say why? Wanted the ball? RT @Jpdabrams: Asked Bill Walker is he ever thought of going to USC w/ O.J. Mayo. His response? "Hell no"|
|Top 25s - Full List|
H: 6' 4"|
W: 200 lbs
(27 Years Old)
|RSCI: 1||Agent: Rob Pelinka |
High School: Huntington
Hometown: Huntington, WV
Pick 3 in 2008 by Timberwolves
Best Case: Chauncey Billups
Worst Case: Joe Forte
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2008||NBA Pre-Draft Camp||6' 3.25"||6' 4.25"||200||6' 6"||8' 3.5"||6.3||30.5||41.0|
|2007||Hoop Summit||NA||6' 5"||NA||6' 6"||8' 4"||NA||NA||NA|
Basic Per Game Statistics - Comprehensive Stats - Statistical Top 25s
Player Page  | Player Stats | Related Tweets | Mock Draft History | Related Articles  | Add to My Draft Express
Rookie Retrospective: O.J. Mayo|
December 26, 2008
Part One: Shooting
“Mayo’s best attribute right now actually might be his shooting ability. He has deep range on his jumper, with picture perfect mechanics, and the ability to come off a screen and create separation elevating sharply off the floor. If his defender goes underneath the screen while he’s executing the pick and roll, he won’t hesitate to punish him instantaneously by knocking down a shot. He can also pull-up off the dribble from mid-range, stopping on a dime and creating terrific separation from his man with a high arching release. He can hit difficult shots with a man in his face, moving left or right and using the glass when needed”
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
“There was no question that we were watching a player with a supreme work ethic, which becomes most noticeable when you take a look at the way he shoots the ball—showing outstanding mechanics that are identical every time, with terrific footwork, balance and arc on his shot, setting his feet instantaneously as soon as he catches the ball, and never looking rattled even when he has a man in his face heavily contesting his shot. Clearly this is the best part of his game at the moment.”
Cross Country Workout Swing, Part 4, A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics, Chicago
Mayo’s merit as a shooter is undeniable. In the early season he has shown a level of variety in his offensive game that most rookies lack, showing the ability to make shots off the dribble, coming off screens, or spotting up when his teammates penetrate or push the ball in transition. His shooting mechanics are nearly flawless, as he has a high release point and always gets full extension on his follow through. In addition to his mechanics, he never wastes a motion in from the time he receives the ball to the time it leaves his fingertips, never dipping the ball on a catch –just going straight up and out. His form lets him get great arc on his perimeter shots, an important quality for any player taking as many jumpers as he does. In addition to his ideal form, Mayo also gets great elevation on his jumper, enabling him to get his shot off against the bigger opponents that he is facing regularly.
He’s currently sporting a 56% true shooting percentage, with the majority of his shots coming from the outside (17-20 feet). As a freshman in college, with a much shorter 3-point line, he shot exactly the same true shooting percentage. His range and results from beyond the arc have been superb as well –his 41.4% shooting ranks him competitively with most of the top shooting guards in the NBA. Clearly Mayo is a supreme shooter.
A great deal of his shooting success has a lot to do with what he does before he even has the ball. His preparation when he moves without the ball allows him to get shots off, despite his height and lack of a particularly quick release. His footwork is usually impeccable, as he stays low coming off screens, catches the ball on a quick one-two step, and then explodes up into his shot. However, there are instances where Mayo won’t come off hard on a screen and settles for catching the ball further out. He’s much more effective when he catches it at the 3-point line or inside of it.
One of the most impressive things about Mayo is his lack of concern for the proximity of his defender. He is not fazed in the slightest bit by an opponent being in his chest as he still somehow manages to get his shot off and looks very comfortable in doing so. This strength can also be also be construed as a weakness with some of his shots seeming rather questionable at times. His confidence probably contributes to his shooting prowess more than anything. The guy truly believes every shot he takes is going in and will not let a few misses affect future attempts.
Part Two: Getting to the Basket
“Mayo doesn’t seem to be getting by defenders the same way he did in high school, meaning that once he’s at the rim, he usually has one defender that he hasn’t quite fully beaten, and another shot-blocker rotating over—a situation that he’s not really used to dealing with right now. He’s getting his shot blocked too often, and is trying to get too cute with his finishes in others. Small adjustments to his game—for example knowing how to use his body better to initiate contact and keep his defender at bay, and using some crafty tricks to finish once inside the paint—will make him much more productive. He still has plenty of time to pick up these small nuances, and if he indeed has as good of a work ethic as reports indicate, should be able to in due time.”
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
Mayo clearly does not possess the explosiveness that many of the perimeter stars of the game have. When attempting to get to the basket, defenders often stay with him –not allowing him to get all the way to the rim. His lack of a quick first step is evident in the half court, as he often resorts to floaters or pull-up jumpers when he can’t beat his man to the basket. As a result, Mayo is only attempting 4 free throw attempts per game, which is way too low for someone with his skill level and who is shooting 88.5% from the charity stripe. He also has a tendency to shy away from contact by fading away for a tough shot or getting too fancy which contributes to his lack of free throw attempts. He has a very strong upper body, and when he learns to use it when attacking the cup, he’ll draw fouls at a much better rate.
Right now, Mayo relies extremely heavily on his jumper as a huge source of his production. 10.3 of the 14.5 shots (71%) Mayo averages each game come on jump-shots—of which he makes an impressive 45%. He’s far more likely to pull-up off the dribble than take the ball all way to the basket, which will continue to hurt his shooting percentages until he makes the adjustment. The problem is that once he does inside the paint, he’s just an average finisher at the rim, converting on a poor 50% of his attempts around the basket (which includes wide-open layups and such).
Even though he lacks an incredible first step, Mayo has shown that he can get to the basket at times because of the cerebral nature in which he plays. He reads defenders very well and is able to get opponents leaning, either with a ball or shot fake, opening up paths to the hoop. He has a great handle and keeps the ball very low as he is often below his defenders shoulders when trying to drive –a must for a player without great speed.
When handling the ball in pick and roll situations, his deceptiveness enables him to get in the lane as he’s either going away from the screen or splitting it nearly one-third of the time according to Synergy Sports Technology, which keeps the defense guessing. When he splits screens however, he tends to force the action which can lead to a great play but also result in turnovers going the other way.
If Mayo wants to develop into the first-option type elite NBA scorer that he appears destined to become, he must continue to work on getting to the free throw line and finishing his drives around the rim. There will be nights that his jumper is off or teams are focused entirely on not allowing him to get his shot off—in those games, he must learn to impose his will on defenses and create high-percentage scoring opportunities. This is likely the part of his game that will decide whether he indeed becomes an all-star level player.
Part Three: Scoring Ability
“The first thing that stands out about Mayo in this setting is just how smooth and instinctive a scorer and overall player he is. Everything he does is extremely effortless—his footwork, balance, body control and ability to create separation from his defender and create a shot for himself is already at an NBA level already… During the season we noted that Mayo will need to learn the crafty tricks of the trade that all the great scorers in the NBA have in order to increase their efficiency and adapt themselves to the incredible speed, strength, length and agility that their defenders will possess to contest every shot they take. That’s exactly what he’s working on here—we saw a great deal of emphasis put on utilizing the superior spacing (due to the much farther 3-point line) that NBA perimeter players enjoy as opposed to college in the mid-range area. Pull-up jumpers, fade-aways, floaters, high pick and rolls, jabs and shot-fakes in Iso situations, scoring over the top of top of outstretched defenders (thanks to the assistance of 7-foot dummies the trainers use in their drills), taking contact and finishing, and other tools Mayo will need to develop into the go-to scoring option his potential says he can become in the NBA.” Cross-Country Workout Swing, Part 4, A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics, Chicago
Mayo’s ability to score the ball has surpassed even the highest hopes for him. He’s ranked 22nd in the league in scoring at 20.2 PPG and 1st amongst rookies.
The advancements that he’s made as a diverse scorer in such a short time, from college to his first couple months in the NBA, are very encouraging. His mid-range game is off the charts, as Mayo has thrived—shooting 51% from 17 feet out to just inside the 3 point line according to Synergy Sports Technology. His pull-up jumper is deadly as he can go right or left (although he does prefer going right overall) and uses an aggressive jump stop to create just enough space for him to get a good look. He has already proven capable of creating space not only effectively, but also consistently. Whether he’s using long jab steps or a step back dribble, he can get his shot off against anyone. As mentioned previously, how he reads a defender also plays a role in his scoring. Whenever his man’s hands are down for example, Mayo is surely going to rise up and shoot without any vacillation.
His craftiness is also a contributing factor to his scoring. He has veteran type moves in his arsenal, like swinging the ball through a defender’s arms when their playing too close like Kobe Bryant often does, and walking his man under the basket and then changing directions quickly to come off a screen like Richard Hamilton tends to. He’s definitely a student of the game and incorporates the games of many of his peers into his own.
The other aspects that he has added to his game are the in-between shots: floaters, tear drops, etc. This is a shot he gets off quickly as he shoots it on his way up. He is only going to improve the consistency of these shots with experience, and it is really impressive to see him taking and making these shots in his early NBA development. He chooses to rely on these shots now however, instead of taking the extra stride to get to the line. Playing for a bad team that is seen by many elite NBA squads as being somewhat of a “night off,” he probably isn’t being as scrutinized as heavily defensively as he might in the future. As mentioned, the development of his slashing game will play a large role in deciding whether he’s able to get over the hump and become an all-star type scorer.
Part Four: Guard Skills and Passing
“With that said, Mayo is still very much an impressive prospect. He has very good size at 6-5, with a terrific body that looks ready to compete right away in the NBA. He’s a powerful athlete with outstanding body control and great ball-handling skills going either left or right, and excellent instincts finding and creating shots for himself, as well as for others. Mayo’s court vision is much better than his 2.9 assists per game would indicate. He brings the ball up the court regularly and for the most part looks quite unselfish executing his team’s half-court sets, making the extra pass and finding the open man when he’s trapped/double-teamed off a pick and roll play time after time, but too often only to see his teammates miss a wide open shot.”
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
Mayo seems to have very good vision as he sees plays develop ahead of time and anticipates where defenders are going to be. Despite that, he doesn’t always throw a catchable pass. He often throws a pass too far ahead of a teammate leaking out, an off target lob, or a pass too hard to handle in the half court – as a result he’s committing just about 3 turnovers a game. He gets a little overzealous when he spots an open man, where if he slowed down like he does as a scorer, he would find more success as a passer.
As it stands now, he has a subpar assist/turnover ratio at 1.05 (only 2.9 assists a game). These low assist numbers also partially be attributed to the way the Grizzlies play however. Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry, are both players that need the ball in their hands and prefer to create for themselves. There is no doubt that Mayo needs to become a better playmaker however.
The low assist numbers and high scoring numbers would lead one to believe he’s selfish, which is not necessarily the case. He actually makes the extra pass and gives up his own opportunities to his teammates, just not always at the right time. He plays at a nice pace and does a good job of letting the game come to him, making him easy to play with, but still needs to improve on his shot-selection and decision making. He doesn’t always know his limitations it seems, and will take questionable shots on occasion. Cutting down on unforced errors and continuing to learn the tendencies of opposing matchups will help Mayo drop his already decent turnover rate. Learning how to make the simple pass and playing on a better team will likely help him improve his poor assist rate.
Part Five: Decision Making
“The problem with Mayo this year seems to be that he’s trying to do too much at times. This is likely for a combination of reasons--by design from his coaching staff, out of frustration with his teammates or the scoreboard, or from habit from spending so much time on the AAU circuit. His shot-selection needs a lot of work, particularly in transition where he shows an especially fast trigger. He’s not reading defenses the way a point guard needs to, lowering his shoulder and driving right into defenders, possibly expecting to get bailed out with a call. Some box-score reading pundits might mistake this type of play with selfishness, but you really don’t get that sense when actually evaluating his game footage. Even with how good of a shooter he is, he’s taking way too many contested jump-shots, which is killing his shooting percentages. On top of that, he’s been far too careless with the basketball, exposing it excessively to his defender, taking too many risks, making lazy passes, and therefore turning the ball over at an extremely high rate (3.9 per game). Again, experience here is paramount. Getting to the free throw line far more often (3.7 per game), and shooting less 3-pointers (6.5 per game) would be very beneficial for him as well”
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
Mayo has certainly become a better decision maker but still needs to improve –which is expected for any rookie. His shot selection has gotten better, which is evident from his high shooting percentages, but he still takes about two shots a game that make you scratch your head.
There are two habits that Mayo will have to break in order to elevate his game. First, he tends to hold the ball too long at times. The longer he holds it, the more passive he seems and that shifts the advantage over to the defense. There are times to hold the ball and set your man up, although Mayo wastes away precious seconds several possessions a game.
Lastly, when Mayo doesn’t have the ball and isn’t coming off a screen, he disappears. There were several occasions over the course of past games where Mayo stood flat footed in the corner and didn’t move or get a touch. Part of this is because of the one-on-one ability of his teammates (Gay, Conley, Lowry), and the offensive set-up, which aims to spread the court and allow for one-on-one play. A player of Mayo’s caliber however, should never go minutes without touching the ball. He should be trying to give his teammates an outlet on the weak side when they drive, attempting to cut back door, or flashing to open areas –three things he rarely does.
Part 6: Defense
“The silver lining from this season has to do with Mayo’s defense, which has been nothing short of outstanding so far, when he’s put his mind to it. He’s doing a terrific job putting pressure on the ball, denying space and overwhelming his matchups with his combination of size, strength, length and lateral quickness. The work he did on Derrick Rose in Madison Square Garden was particularly notable, rendering him fairly ineffective when were matched up against each other. Mayo still needs to show that same commitment on each and every possession, but the early signs have been fairly promising.”
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
Mayo’s commitment and excellence on the defensive end has been very impressive for any player, let alone a rookie. It’s rare to see him out of a stance as he stays low and pressures whoever is in his way. He never gives up on a play – always contesting shots even when beat or late to close out. He takes players out of their comfort zones, by bodying up to them, being physical and taking away their strengths. When bigger guards try to post him, he’ll make them pay by pushing them away from the basket, nullifying their height advantage. He does all of this without fouling, (2.2 fouls a game) which shows his understanding of how to play on this side of the court. That ease that he plays with on offense is transformed to aggression and feistiness on the defensive end.
Off the ball he isn’t as successful, but not because of a lack of effort. He seems to take it as a personal challenge when defending opposing guards, which at times can hinder his ability to fulfill his defensive responsibilities in the team-concept. He’ll often swipe at an off guard driving by his side instead of taking a half a step in stop him. On the other hand, when guarding a three point threat, he does a good job of faking at a penetrating guard and recovering back quickly to his man.
One area the he can stand to work on is boxing out. Once a shot goes up he leaves his man trying to anticipate where the ball is going. He can completely lose sight of his man, which is never a good thing. If he could locate his man first, bump him a little bit, and then pursue the ball, he would benefit greatly and increase his very pedestrian 4.2 RPG average.
Part 7: Intangibles
Jonathan Givony: What do you view right now as your biggest strength? What is your strongest selling point to an NBA team?
O.J. Mayo: I feel like I’m a tremendous competitor. I really want to win, hands down, more than anything. Whatever it takes to win, I’m willing to do. O.J. Mayo: "There are more than two players who could go number one"
May 24, 2008
Without a doubt, O.J. Mayo is a fierce competitor. In games where the Grizzlies have been blown out, Mayo can be seen going all out as if it’s overtime, until the last horn. This competitiveness will serve Mayo well and ensure his team success down the road. In addition to that, the maturity and poise with which he plays the game are those of a ten year veteran, not a twenty one year old rookie. He rarely argues with the refs, never displays any negative body language-- which is important on a young team--and is noticeably excited for his teammates’ success.
All things considered, the Grizzlies have to be thrilled with the way their draft pick has performed so far, as he’s very much in the running for Rookie of the Year honors and still has room to grow as a player. Mayo has shown that the hoopla around him in high school was clearly not for naught, and he has a chance to develop into an all-star type guard down the road if he continues to progress the way most rookies do.
[Read Full Article]
Las Vegas Summer League Day Four
July 16, 2008
Mayo didn’t have all that great of a game save a three-quarter court shot that he knocked in off balance with a defender in his face. Mayo once again shot well from behind the arc, but he found some resistance today from the midrange. He’s lights out when open, but he didn’t get a lot of easy looks today. He gambles defensively, and hasn’t found that much success when doing so in Vegas, especially in this contest. Mayo made a couple nice passes, but will get a bit too fancy or aggressive at times, leading to turnovers. While he’s not that assertive on the glass, he could be a very good rebounder if he wants to be. His strength, will, and anticipation would all serve him well on that front. This wasn’t a great game for Mayo, but his struggles when guarded and consistency from the outside are notable.
[Read Full Article]
Las Vegas Summer League Day Three
July 14, 2008
Mayo really didn’t show up today, he struggled to get going from the outside, and when that happened, he didn’t make much of an effort to attack the rim. Coby Karl’s tremendous length bothered his shot on a couple occasions, and Dwayne Mitchell ripped his crossover late for an easy dunk. It is becoming very obvious that Mayo is trying to showcase his catch and shoot ability, and he’s doing a good job of it. This game had very little tempo to it, and it led to Mayo turning the ball over on a couple occasions when the floor wasn’t spaced properly. Despite the struggles, Mayo once again showed his range. He’s goes to make a killing against players that don’t defend him aggressively, but the Lakers made it a point to make it tough on Mayo
[Read Full Article]
Cross-Country Workout Swing, Part 4, A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics, Chicago
May 24, 2008
Mayo’s workout was built by Grover and Procopio off the role he will play in the NBA, and is reinforced by a lot of Synergy Sports Technology footage of some of the great players in the NBA that he can learn from. While it didn’t tell us everything we need to know about the type of NBA player he’ll become, it was highly informative.
“We’re trying to get O.J. comfortable using things he’ll need to have in his game at a couple of different positions,” told us the man who did possibly the most work with him over the two days we spent in Chicago, former Boston Celtics scout Mike Procopio. “O.J. is going to play a lot of point guard in the NBA—so we’re working on scoring off pick and rolls, isolations, post-ups, cutting to the basket—taking advantage of his size and athleticism. In my opinion he’ll be somewhere in between Chauncey Billups and Gary Payton. We’re trying to work with him on the type of shots he’ll be able to take on the court, and the situations he’ll be put in.”
The first thing that stands out about Mayo in this setting is just how smooth and instinctive a scorer and overall player he is. Everything he does is extremely effortless—his footwork, balance, body control and ability to create separation from his defender and create a shot for himself is already at an NBA level already.
During the season we noted that Mayo will need to learn the crafty tricks of the trade that all the great scorers in the NBA have in order to increase their efficiency and adapt themselves to the incredible speed, strength, length and agility that their defenders will possess to contest every shot they take.
That’s exactly what he’s working on here—we saw a great deal of emphasis put on utilizing the superior spacing (due to the much farther 3-point line) that NBA perimeter players enjoy as opposed to college in the mid-range area. Pull-up jumpers, fade-aways, floaters, high pick and rolls, jabs and shot-fakes in Iso situations, scoring over the top of top of outstretched defenders (thanks to the assistance of 7-foot dummies the trainers use in their drills), taking contact and finishing, and other tools Mayo will need to develop into the go-to scoring option his potential says he can become in the NBA.
|Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress|
Most notable was the fluidity in which he executes his step-back and pull-up moves, particularly the agility and power in which he glides around with his sharp cuts, hops and strides to create space for himself on different parts of the floor, showing very little wasted movement and looking absolutely natural and incredibly confident executing very difficult sequences that will make him extremely difficult to defend at the next level. Already an instinctive player with an excellent feel for the game, Mayo is only being given more weapons to work with by the instructors here, as well as sharpening up the ones he already has. For a guy who struggled in his only season of college basketball at times with being able to consistently get to the free throw line and create high percentage shots for himself, this is extremely important.
“We have the honor of using Synergy Sports Technology, which as you know, is the best program that exists in basketball. We’ll show him different moves players use in the NBA, whether it’s a Chauncey Billups, a Chris Paul or a Tony Parker. 30 minutes after the drill is over, he’ll have a DVD in his hand that reinforces the things we are teaching here so he can see how they are utilized in real life. It’s easier when they see players do it. I love it, because our pre-draft training is going on when the playoffs are on, so they’ll see a lot of the things we’re doing the night before.”
|Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress|
One thing that definitely stands out about Mayo is just how hard he is working right now, something that has probably gotten a lot more difficult lately with all the distractions surrounding his choice of agents and his relationship with Rodney Guillory. He was the first player in the gym when we arrived for the second day of our visit. There was no question that we were watching a player with a supreme work ethic, which becomes most noticeable when you take a look at the way he shoots the ball—showing outstanding mechanics that are identical every time, with terrific footwork, balance and arc on his shot, setting his feet instantaneously as soon as he catches the ball, and never looking rattled even when he has a man in his face heavily contesting his shot. Clearly this is the best part of his game at the moment
Mayo’s competitiveness stood out the most when it was time for the NBA players and some of the lesser known prospects to go head to head in a five on five matchup. These types of games are usually not supposed to involved guys like Mayo (often for the fear of injury), but he refused to take no for an answer. “Juice, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Tim Grover asked him. Mayo pretended not to hear him, and proceeded to show off his playmaking skills and unselfishness by pushing the ball up the floor repeatedly, making some great drive and dish plays, and throwing a number of alleyoop lobs to his old running mate Bill Walker. He played great defense on Jeremy Pargo, not giving him an inch to breathe and absolutely shutting him down, but the fact that he had just completed a grueling workout in the weight room left him with almost no legs to finish his plays around the basket. Grover pulled him out after the first game was over, and Mayo looked visibly upset by the fact that his team lost.
“He pushes himself as much as any player I’ve seen” Mike Procopio noted. I’ve never seen a guy who is more focused than him. I feel bad for the guys who will have to work out against him. He reminds me of Clubber Lang [played by Mr. T] in Rocky 3 with the way he trained for that fight against Rocky. Rocky was in the disco having fun, and Clubber Lang was in some hole in the wall doing chin-ups. The guy is a nut when it comes to working out. You can see it in his eyes, he wants to be great. He’ll spend all day doing something until he gets it right. The kid cannot fail. He will not fail. He’s fearless. Some kids listen to the crowd around them, who tell them how good they are. They live on the hype. They live off the rankings of the scouting services around the country. He doesn’t. He wants to rip your heart out, serve it to you on a plate, and then do it again. The kid is a killer, he’s a total killer on the court. He’ll be a special player.”
[Read Full Article]
O.J. Mayo: "There are more than two players who could go number one"
May 24, 2008
Jonathan Givony: Hi O.J. Where did you watch the NBA Draft Lottery?
O.J. Mayo: In my hotel room.
Jonathan Givony: What did you think about it?
O.J. Mayo: It was interesting to see which teams got to pick first.
|Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress|
Jonathan Givony: Any thoughts on the teams that got picks one through five and how that is going to affect you?
O.J. Mayo: No sir. I’ve just been working out; but it is an interesting top five.
Jonathan Givony: Who do you think is going to go number one: Beasley or Rose?
O.J. Mayo: I don’t know, there are a lot of players. There are more than two players who could go number one I think.
Jonathan Givony: Is it more important for you to get drafted as high as possible or are you more concerned with getting drafted into the best possible situation?
O.J. Mayo: As high as possible.
Jonathan Givony: In the NBA do you see yourself as a point guard, a combo guard or a two-guard?
O.J. Mayo: I could be a point guard. Really though, I see myself as a guard, a guard who wants to win. But I think I would be better at the point guard position.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think with the direction that the NBA is heading in, in terms of the up tempo play and hand checking rules, do you think that favors your game, or would you have been better ten years ago?
O.J. Mayo: I think it favors my game, but at the same time I’m a ballplayer so I think I could have been good ten years ago also.
Jonathan Givony: Do you see yourself as more of a Brandon Roy kind of player who operates in the mid-range, or are you going to be more like an Allen Iverson, a slasher and a high volume free throw guy?
O.J. Mayo: I see myself as more of a Deron Williams. I can get to the basket; I feel comfortable shooting the jumper off the dribble or spotting up, I can keep other players involved and the overall energy level up.
Jonathan Givony: Is that your favorite comparison right now, Deron Williams?
O.J. Mayo: Yes sir.
Jonathan Givony: How long have you been here in Chicago?
O.J. Mayo: I’ve been here for a little over a week.
Jonathan Givony: What are your thoughts so far on working out with Tim Grover, Mike Procopio and Rod Baker?
O.J. Mayo: They do a great job. I had the opportunity to finish out school, so I came a little late, but I was still working out at school. So when I came here, I just picked it up a little bit; they’re doing a great job of preparing me for the draft.
Jonathan Givony: Where do you think you’re at right now in terms of conditioning from 0 to 100 percent?
O.J. Mayo: I’m at about 85 percent. I caught a cold when I went home to West Virginia to visit my mom for Mother’s Day. In all though, I’m at 85 percent.
Jonathan Givony: What do you like that they’re working with you on here? Maybe some aspect of your game that you hadn’t though about before?
O.J. Mayo: The ball-handling part, and really just getting to a spot and exploding.
Jonathan Givony: We currently have you being drafted sixth by New York. What are your thoughts on playing in a market like New York City?
O.J. Mayo: I’m a ballplayer, I’ll play wherever. I just want to be in a winning situation.
Jonathan Givony: It seems like when you went to college, part of your decision was based off the market you were going to play in, the exposure and all that. There’s a big difference for example between Memphis and New York; what are your thoughts on that?
O.J. Mayo: My dream is just to play in the NBA. So when you get to choose which city and all that, I think it’s asking just too much. I would love to play in Chicago, Miami, anywhere; I just want to be put in a situation where the team is just about winning, nothing more, and nothing less.
|Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress|
Jonathan Givony: How do the workouts here differ from the workouts you did individually at USC?
O.J. Mayo: I think the intensity just picks up a little more; the speed between drills picks up a little. It’s all usually the same drills, I just think the intensity is up a little higher.
Jonathan Givony: Have you had a chance to work out with any of the pro guys here so far?
O.J. Mayo: DaJuan Wagner, but nobody else.
Jonathan Givony: How have you dealt with the distractions you’ve had over the last few weeks? Has that been difficult to deal with?
O.J. Mayo: (Smiles) No, it isn’t difficult. Things happen, and some of the little stuff is still going on, but it’s out of my hands. I just need to worry about basketball.
Jonathan Givony: At USC you carried a pretty big load in terms of your offensive responsibility; are you looking forward to being a little more versatile in the NBA, being able to show more of your passing and stuff like that?
O.J. Mayo: Yes sir. Those are some of the things I wanted to do at USC, but Coach Floyd said we needed me to score points, so I did what was best for the team. When you get to the NBA, though, you’ve got a lot of players who can make shots. Like I said, I like to play like Deron Williams, he plays at a high level and can do a lot of things. If he needs to score, if he needs to play defense, get the bigs involved, or get a shooter going a little bit, he can do that.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think your assist to turnover ratio at USC is indicative of the type of point guard you are?
O.J. Mayo: No sir, I don’t think so. I can definitely play the point guard spot, that’s what I want to play; but if the team needs me to be a combo guard and a two-guard, really it’s whatever they need me to do in order for us to be in the best position to win.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think some of the criticism you got as USC was fair?
O.J. Mayo: What criticism?
Jonathan Givony: In terms of living or not living up to the hype. Your start was a little rough, but you got much better as the season progressed obviously. Do you think that was fair in terms of you being a freshman and all that?
O.J. Mayo: No sir, I don’t think so. I mean I didn’t really look into it that much. I know we had an early loss, but working all summer to become a better point guard, then having to come in and play as a shooting guard, like you said, that was something I wasn’t too good at in the beginning of the season. But I put in a lot of extra work before and after practice seeing as how that was the position I was going to be playing.
Jonathan Givony: What do you view right now as your biggest strength? What is your strongest selling point to an NBA team?
O.J. Mayo: I feel like I’m a tremendous competitor. I really want to win, hands down, more than anything. Whatever it takes to win, I’m willing to do.
Jonathan Givony: If NBA teams are asking you to be honest and say “OJ in your opinion what is your biggest weakness,” what are you going to tell them you think you need to work on?
O.J. Mayo: I would like to play at a high level from start to finish, not taking any plays off. Of course I think all aspects of my game can always get better; I don’t think there is anything I shouldn’t be working on. I need to get stronger, faster, bigger, shoot better; everything can always get better I feel like.
Jonathan Givony: What is your biggest selling point as a human being? What do you bring to the table that people might not know about you off the court?
O.J. Mayo: I’m a likeable person, I’m a people person. I’ve been in many types of situations, I can relate to all kinds of kids. I know that in difficult situations something can always be done. I like to have fun, I like watching movies; I’m really just an ordinary Joe off the court, nothing spectacular, it’s just me.
|Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress|
Jonathan Givony: What about your maturation process? What are some things you think you need to improve upon as a human being when you’re kind of reflecting on yourself?
O.J. Mayo: I don’t know. I try everyday to be a better person than I was yesterday. Sometimes you may be in a bad mood about something and someone asks you a question and it may come off wrong, you might not even mean it to, but just in the heat of the moment. I just need to get better at little things like that. You left this room and something there made you mad, don’t bring it over to the next room; understand that it happened and then move on.
Jonathan Givony: Five years from now, how do you project your role in the NBA?
O.J. Mayo: My goal has always been to play for the US Olympic team, so hopefully I’ll be fresh off a gold medal and getting ready to play for an NBA championship; that would be nice.
Jonathan Givony: What about off the court ventures? Is there anything you want to get into over the next five years as opportunities present themselves?
O.J. Mayo: I really think that America is growing population wise. Just living in LA there’s a lot of different people coming over, and it’s becoming a place where a lot of people want to come. So I think business management and real estate investment is something I really want to do, so whatever city I get drafted to, I want to get into that a little bit.
Jonathan Givony: What’s the most important thing you learned from Coach Floyd both as a player and as a person?
O.J. Mayo: As a person, it’s what I was telling you about, just trying to be a better person everyday. As a player, there are going to be times where you have a long day at school, you’re up all night studying, then you come to practice and it’s like now I have to deal with this part of college. He told us, everyday just find something that wires you, find something inside that makes you play at a high level because when you play 82 games and its game 58 and you’re playing the worst team in the NBA, you still have a job to do. So find something inside to wire you. He coached in the NBA, and he said that some of his players might take a night off, so get yourself wired. That’s what I learned, so sometimes if I’m tired during workouts I’ll find something to get me going.
Jonathan Givony: Did he push you?
O.J. Mayo: Yeah, he did push me. If anything, Coach Floyd coached me like he would have coached the last player on the bench.
Jonathan Givony: What was the most amazing basketball experience you ever had?
O.J. Mayo: I think getting to play against Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament was a unique experience. I thought that was the last team we were going to draw, so that was cool.
Jonathan Givony: Some teams have questioned your upside since you’ve always been a year older than your class, how do you respond to this? Is that something you get offended by when people say maybe he’s reached his peak; that’s something you’ve heard since you’ve been in high school. How do you respond to that?
O.J. Mayo: I’m going to work hard regardless of what anyone says. You can say whatever you want to say, but you’re not going to take that away from me, you’re not going to say that I don’t work hard or that I’m lazy, that’s one thing you’re not going to say.
Jonathan Givony: Is there anything else you want to tell people who are behind you and supporting you right now?
O.J. Mayo: I want that spot.
Jonathan Givony: Alright, thanks a lot O.J.
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Bad News for Those Who Didn’t Do Their Homework Early...
March 26, 2008
Mayo looked extremely nervous in his first (and likely last) NCAA tournament appearance, doing some very uncharacteristic things of a player who has garnered so much praise lately for his poise and maturity—for example picking up his dribble at mid-court in his very first possession. He forced some very bad shots up in the first half, but also did a phenomenal job of putting his court vision on display and making some gorgeous passes. He showed his perimeter shooting range by knocking down two NBA+ range 3-pointers, as well as by coming off a screen and spotting up, but was pretty cold early and late in the game, going just 6-15 total from the field, and scoring 20 points overall. Defensively, he was intense as usual, getting low in his stance, doing his best to contest shots, getting in the passing lanes, and guarding multiple positions on the court. All in all, this probably wasn’t the way Mayo envisioned his NCAA career ending when he committed to USC, and it surely wasn’t the situation he signed up for, but he did a pretty admirable job living up the impossible swirl of hype that preceded him.
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Blogging through Championship Week (Part Three)
March 14, 2008
Had an excellent game, one of the best of his NCAA career so far, at just the right time, in front of a horde of scouts. Finished with 23 points and 6 assists, on 8/17 shooting with 5 turnovers. He seems to be improving game by game these days.
Mayo is always open as far as he's concerned, for good or for bad, as he doesn't change his shot in the least bit even when he's being contested. He again showed the ability to come off screens and elevate instantaneously while squaring his shoulders and getting his picture perfect shot off.
Besides his perimeter shot, he contributed in a variety of ways, getting his own shot repeatedly, and creating for others when things aren't there. He again looked extremely unselfish and always aware of where teammates are on the floor, showing great court vision and a superb feel for game. He seems to be figuring out the college game, his teammates and his coach's not so simple offense, looking extremely poised and patience throughout the game, almost to a fault at times. He struggles to always fully beat guys off dribble in pure one on one situations, though, as his first step is not off charts and he's not super explosive around the basket.
Defensively, he did a very good job, getting out to half-court to put pressure on the ball, showing great hands, and really putting in a solid effort here once again.
Mayo again was fairly turnover prone, at times trying to be too spectacular, making risky or lazy passes that led to lost possessions. NBA scouts we talked to here question his upside to a certain extent. Is he going to be a star or a superb role player they wonder? And is that worthy of a top-5 pick? He played more PG than usual, which was nice to see, and after a terrific first half (14 points, 5 assists) slowed down a bit in the second, looking too unselfish and not taking the reigns when his fellow teammates started settling for some bad shots. He missed two open jumpers late that could have came back to haunt SC. Still ended up being responsible for huge percentage of his team’s 59 points with the 23 points and 6 assists he dished out.
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NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/9/08-- Part One
January 9, 2008
We’re nearly half-way through O.J. Mayo’s much-anticipated freshman season at USC, and for some reason, it still feels somewhat premature to accurately assess how he’s faring so far. On one hand, he is the second leading scorer on the best conference in the NCAA, but on the other, it’s hard not to ignore the way he’s struggled at times so far. The expectations from him coming in were unbearably high, and it seems clear that it’s not only Mayo who needs to reassess some things after what we’ve learned 14 games in.
It’s impossible to separate Mayo the prospect from the situation he’s landed in at Southern Cal. The Trojans are one of the slowest and most inefficient teams in the Pac-10, ranked near the bottom in points, field goal percentage and assists, but #1 in turnovers. Ken Pomeroy’s website ranks them 107th in tempo, and 133rd in offensive efficiency, clearly awful when you look at the teams he has ranked around them. He also has them ranked 11th on defense, though.
Tim Floyd likes to milk to shot-clock down to single digits before spacing the floor calling almost strictly Isolation plays, featuring very young guards and almost no shot-creators to be found besides Mayo. His big men are undersized and extremely poor decision makers, and the team has almost no depth or veteran leadership. In short, this team was always going to struggle to win games.
Into that situation steps O.J. Mayo, who is now beginning to figure out that things are quite different at the collegiate level than they were in high school. All of a sudden everyone around him is just as big, strong and athletic, and it’s pretty clear that his explosiveness around the basket is not quite as impressive as it looked against high school players. He started the year relying way too heavily on his 3-point shot, and is now making more of a commitment to getting into the paint, but with limited success until he learns more about the art of getting his shot off in traffic.
With that said, Mayo is still very much an impressive prospect. He has very good size at 6-5, with a terrific body that looks ready to compete right away in the NBA. He’s a powerful athlete with outstanding body control and great ball-handling skills going either left or right, and excellent instincts finding and creating shots for himself, as well as for others. Mayo’s court vision is much better than his 2.9 assists per game would indicate. He brings the ball up the court regularly and for the most part looks quite unselfish executing his team’s half-court sets, making the extra pass and finding the open man when he’s trapped/double-teamed off a pick and roll play time after time, but too often only to see his teammates miss a wide open shot. Late in games or shot-clocks (for example against Memphis) he’s forced into take-over mode, where his entire team clears out of the way for an Isolation play and watches him go 1 on 5 in impossible fashion. This seems to happen far too often, but is almost a necessity considering how poor a team USC is offensively (ranked 308th by Pomeroy in 3-point shooting for example.)
Mayo’s best attribute right now actually might be his shooting ability. He has deep range on his jumper, with picture perfect mechanics, and the ability to come off a screen and create separation elevating sharply off the floor. If his defender goes underneath the screen while he’s executing the pick and roll, he won’t hesitate to punish him instantaneously by knocking down a shot. He can also pull-up off the dribble from mid-range, stopping on a dime and creating terrific separation from his man with a high arching release. He can hit difficult shots with a man in his face, moving left or right and using the glass when needed—which is where a lot of his problems come into play. If his defender over-commits, he’s smart enough to know how to get by him, and has a nifty floater he can go to to finish the play.
The problem with Mayo this year seems to be that he’s trying to do too much at times. This is likely for a combination of reasons--by design from his coaching staff, out of frustration with his teammates or the scoreboard, or from habit from spending so much time on the AAU circuit. His shot-selection needs a lot of work, particularly in transition where he shows an especially fast trigger. He’s not reading defenses the way a point guard needs to, lowering his shoulder and driving right into defenders, possibly expecting to get bailed out with a call. Some box-score reading pundits might mistake this type of play with selfishness, but you really don’t get that sense when actually evaluating his game footage.
Mayo doesn’t seem to be getting by defenders the same way he did in high school, meaning that once he’s at the rim, he usually has one defender that he hasn’t quite fully beaten, and another shot-blocker rotating over—a situation that he’s not really used to dealing with right now. He’s getting his shot blocked too often, and is trying to get too cute with his finishes in others. Small adjustments to his game—for example knowing how to use his body better to initiate contact and keep his defender at bay, and using some crafty tricks to finish once inside the paint—will make him much more productive. He still has plenty of time to pick up these small nuances, and if he indeed has as good of a work ethic as reports indicate, should be able to in due time.
Even with how good of a shooter he is, he’s taking way too many contested jump-shots, which is killing his shooting percentages. On top of that, he’s been far too careless with the basketball, exposing it excessively to his defender, taking too many risks, making lazy passes, and therefore turning the ball over at an extremely high rate (3.9 per game). Again, experience here is paramount. Getting to the free throw line far more often (3.7 per game), and shooting less 3-pointers (6.5 per game) would be very beneficial for him as well.
The silver lining from this season has to do with Mayo’s defense, which has been nothing short of outstanding so far, when he’s put his mind to it. He’s doing a terrific job putting pressure on the ball, denying space and overwhelming his matchups with his combination of size, strength, length and lateral quickness. The work he did on Derrick Rose in Madison Square Garden was particularly notable, rendering him fairly ineffective when were matched up against each other. Mayo still needs to show that same commitment on each and every possession, but the early signs have been fairly promising.
All in all, Mayo’s freshman season has been fairly up and down so far, both individually and as far as his team is concerned, though. It’s not a shock to see that there’s been a transition for him to be made from the high school/AAU level to college, especially when you look at the coaching he received in the past…He has a tremendous framework of skills and tools of which to build off, though, and even if his draft stock may have taken a hit so far, he still very much looks like an excellent NBA prospect.
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Nike Hoop Summit Team USA Player Recap (Part One: the Guards)
April 13, 2007
O.J. Mayo has been up and down on the spring all-star game circuit, looking phenomenal in the McDonald’s practices all week only to lay an egg in the game, but bouncing back with an MVP performance at the Roundball Classic. So it was nice to see a Hoop Summit performance from Mayo that fell in between the two extremes. Mayo didn’t do anything in this game to distance himself from the rest of the 2008 challengers, but he did lead Team USA in scoring. There was an occasional rushed shot, but the 4/5 Ast/TO ratio he was credited with in the box score doesn’t accurately describe the impact Mayo was able to make with his passing.
While Mayo still doesn’t provide the unrelenting lock-down defensive presence that his Hoop Summit backcourt mates do, this is an area that Mayo has clearly made strides in over the past year. He has worked on moving his feet effectively, and has started becoming more physically aggressive as well. This really showed itself in the practices as well, where Mayo was matched up against Derrick Rose much of the time and aggressively contested Rose at every opportunity.
Mayo has always been a phenomenal anticipator, and this really shines through now that he is putting forth adequate effort as a team and half-court defender. Mayo may never be a feared defender, but this was one weak point that needed to be cleared up before his NBA career begins. Looking at the defensive development of players like Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young since Tim Floyd arrived at USC, it is a safe assumption that Mayo’s year as a Trojan will only help him continue to develop here.
As for the offensive side of the ball, Mayo was his usual dominant self. It was nice to see him take the ball hard to the basket several times early in the game, where he went up strong and drew contact instead of attempting to avoid the defense and come up with a spectacular finish. Mayo got to the foul line six times, and has all the tools necessary to become a volume free throw shooter at the NBA level. He continues to show the ability to create offense just about anywhere, converting on one particularly fancy drive and leaner in the lane and whipping highlight reel passes to open teammates for finishing opportunities on countless occasions.
In terms of shooting, there were several times where Mayo could have pulled the ball back out instead of firing away early in the shot clock, but it was interesting to note that several of these quick shots were taken with Team USA big men headed into the lane and in good position for an offensive rebound. Mayo gets fabulous elevation on his jumper and is capable of pulling up off the dribble at any time when defenders will already be on their heels because of his explosive slashing and passing abilities. When he gets that midrange jumper going, NCAA defenses might as well just give up.
Mayo didn’t get much of a chance to showcase his point guard abilities with all of the ball-handlers on Team USA, and he has never really proven his ability to control a game as a floor general in this type of setting. There can be no denying his elite level court vision, however. He sees the floor at a level that can’t be taught, and has a special flair for the dramatic pass that is very rarely seen on any level. While his tendency to fire up quick shots has been well-documented by just about everybody, his ability to thread the needle in the blink of an eye often gets overlooked. He is a constant threat to burn a defense, and loves to throw the no-look pass in the lane after a series of dribbles when everybody is expecting a shot to go up. Mayo certainly will dominate the ball at times, but it is hard to see him not emerging as an all-around offensive force in an NBA that is still quite isolation-happy.
2007-2008 Outlook: People putting out “pre-preseason” All-America teams and not including Mayo just aren’t thinking clearly. Mayo is an instant 20-5-5 presence, and you can be sure that Tim Floyd will find a way to make the most out of his immensely talented recruit – both in terms of Mayo’s development, and the overall success of his program. There is a lot of uncertainty out there about exactly who will be suiting up for the Trojans in the fall, but the return of Gabe Pruitt or Nick Young to go along with Mayo, Daniel Hackett, Davon Jefferson and Taj Gibson would make USC worthy of a preseason national Top 5 billing and would probably give Floyd the best team of his NCAA coaching career. As far as the draft goes, Mayo isn’t on a different level compared to the other 2008 Top 5 hopefuls in the way that Oden and Durant were this year, but his NBA eligibility will still give league bottom feeders plenty of reason to think about tanking come next spring.
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Roundball Classic: Game Player Breakdowns
April 5, 2007
From the tip it was clear that Mayo was attempting to disprove the reputation that he had as a selfish player after the McDonald’s game. In the first half, he absolutely discredited the notion that he was only out there for himself, distributing the ball to all of his teammates and only shooting when the opportunity presented itself. When he did look to score, he connected on an extremely contested three pointer, as well as two gorgeous takes to the rim where he cuffed the ball as if it were a football and finished at the basket with his right hand. The combo guard showed off his excellent court vision on numerous passes, including one in traffic that DeAndre Jordan finished with a monstrous dunk. He left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he completely has the ability to play point guard WHEN he wants to, and can be unselfish almost to a fault at times. O.J’s unselfishness was a large part of the reason that his team fell behind early, with the East team relying heavily on his dynamic scoring ability.
New half, new Mayo. With his team trailing he finally decided that he needed to take over, and that he did. It appeared as if we were watching an NBA player out there with 17 year olds, as O.J. scored ten consecutive points via two gritty takes to the rim as well as two three pointers. Over a three minute span in the fourth quarter, he had 13 points and 2 assists, cutting a 25 point lead down to 11. He made everyone in attendance believers in that when he’s hot, there is not a player in the country who can do anything to stop him by his performance in the fourth quarter.
After a horrendous McDonald’s performance, the Huntington star came out with a killer mentality to prove all of the critics wrong who felt he was overrated after his game in Louisville. He played just as hard, if not harder then anyone on the floor and showed the leadership skills necessary to play point guard at the highest level. Despite his play in the McDonald’s game, we still feel that Mayo will be the top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, barring the unlikely possibility of Greg Oden or Kevin Durant returning to college.
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Roundball Classic: O.J. Mayo Interview
April 4, 2007
DraftExpress: Tell me what was different between the Roundball and the McDonald’s game.
Mayo: The McDonald’s…I don’t know about it. It was kind of different, as far as trying to get a rhythm. There, you were only able to play four minutes at a time, as opposed to here where you got to go six. I think I got into a better rhythm. Guys played harder tonight. Even though it was a lopsided score, I think we played harder tonight, as far as getting after it in the second half.
DraftExpress: Now you started off the game a bit passive tonight, but then scored 10 straight points and 13 points in a three minute span of the fourth quarter. What changed in your mentality from the start of the game to the fourth quarter?
Mayo: (laughs) I didn’t want to get blown out. I didn’t want to get blown out. They had a lead on us, and I was just trying to help the team out by cutting down on the lead.
DraftExpress: You were quite visibly upset after the McDonald’s game. Can you tell me a little bit about what was going through your head at that time?
Mayo: I had an opportunity to win the damn game and I missed the shot. Everybody dreams of that opportunity, and I work on that shot day in and day out. It’s the easiest shot of the game, the top of the key. I missed it. I didn’t play well. Some of the shots that I took, I feel like I can make and they just didn’t fall down. I had the opportunity to sum it all up at the end of the game and I came short. I was just pissed.
DraftExpress: You looked like an NBA All-Star amongst high school kids in the McDonald’s practices, then came out and struggled once the game started. What happened?
Mayo: I don’t think anybody who plays basketball plays a great game every time they step on the damn court. Obviously it was just the wrong stage to have a bad game. You know what I mean? At the same time, I think it’s going to make me stronger at the end of the day because it’s just going to make me work harder so it doesn’t happen again.
DraftExpress: Now I’m sure you noticed this, just as everyone else did. While everyone was playing somewhat relaxed defense against the other players in the game, it seemed as if whomever was guarding you stepped it up and was trying to lock down, as if it were the state championship. Did you notice that?
Mayo: (laughs) They’re competitors, you know what I’m saying? There’s a lot of guys who feel like I’m the top guards and they’re top guards, and maybe they wanted to prove that they were better and that they could play with me. At the same time, I wanted to prove the same thing. When you have two players like that, it’s nice. That’s how it goes sometimes.
DraftExpress: As of even three days ago when I spoke with you, you were undecided as to if you were going to the Jordan or Roundball game. What made you decide to play in the Roundball game?
Mayo: Well, my mother was able to get off work and I’m just trying to work around her schedule. I’m going three thousand miles away for school, so at least I wanted to make sure that she could see my all-star games. She didn’t get in until last night. She left right from work, got on the plane, and came in last night for an opportunity to watch the game. I just wanted to make sure that my family got the opportunity to check me out in the all-star game.
DraftExpress: Give me a self evaluation of your performance tonight.
Mayo: I did alright. It wasn’t enough to win. I did alright. I don’t really want to pinpoint my individual stats or anything, since we lost the game.
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Roundball Classic Practices: Day Two
April 3, 2007
Mayo’s work ethic was immediately evident during the practice session, with him being the very first player on the court before things started putting up a countless number of jump shots. During the drills, his excellent fundamentals and understanding of the game were put on display, seemingly teaching all of the other players the proper fundamentals in terms of coming off screens and running the pick and roll. The USC recruit was the most competitive player on either team during the drills, becoming very frustrated in the rare occasion that he actually would miss a shot.
O.J. had a heated battle with Jonny Flynn, with neither backing down from each other. He had showed off his beautiful crossover dribble move and played outstanding defense on the super hot Syracuse recruit, forcing the diminutive guard into many contested shots. He displayed the ability to post smaller guards, catching the ball on the blocks and making a remarkable fade away jumper from about 17 feet away. The motivation and drive that was displayed by Mayo on the floor is reminiscent of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, a rarity for a player at such a young age. On the downside however, he did force a few passes and his shot selection was a bit questionable at times. All in all though, this was another outstanding performance by Mayo in the second practice session.
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Roundball Classic Practices: Day One
April 2, 2007
Mayo started off the Roundball practices just as he was in the McDonald’s practices: Hands down the best player on the court. He simply did whatever he wanted out there, both in terms of running a team and scoring for himself. While there were a few instances of questionable shot selection on the day, he did an outstanding job of getting everyone else involved in the mean time. The Huntington star showed the ability to defend anyone on the court when he chose to exert forth the necessary effort, and put on a downright incredible shooting display after practice. As he hit countless three pointer after three pointer, a former college coach sitting next near by mentioned that he had counted Mayo hit at least 12 consecutive three pointers, all from well beyond the collegiate three point line. Things are surely starting off on the right foot for O.J., and hopefully he is able to continue his dominance all the way through the Roundball game itself, so we don’t have another repeat of the McDonald’s game.
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2007 McDonald's All America Game: Player Breakdowns
March 29, 2007
The nation’s best player had his worst possible game Wednesday, shooting a frosty 23% from the field and missing the shot that would have won the game for his East squad. He reverted back to his reckless style of play that he had as a youngster, when he consistently forced shots and could be awfully selfish at times. After three fantastic days of practice, Mayo shocked every member of the media in attendance with his atrocious performance, and surely has some ground to make up for in the Nike Hoop Summit and whichever other all-star game he decides to play in.
From the tip, it was apparent that Mayo was looking to score before getting his teammates involved in the game. He was thinking “shoot, shoot, shoot” every time he came off that pick and roll, rarely even glancing at the roll man. He settled for far too many contested jumpers from the perimeter, opting to take the three instead of going to the rim the majority of the time he was on the court. To O.J.’s defense, he made those shots all week long in practice and has shown that he can make them on a consistent basis, but when the lights were on, unfortunately he did not come to perform.
It was troubling to see the three time Mr. Basketball shoot so much after he showed so much promise throughout the week as a playmaker. In the practice sessions, he looked to get all of his teammates involved when he would break down the defense, instead of forcing awfully difficult shots like he did Wednesday night. The Louisville fans even began booing Mayo late in the game, when his desire to put points on the board began to draw more attention then the actual game itself. His superb court vision was not on show at all, leaving many who had not seen him play before believe that he is a pure chucker with no other skills at all.
On the bright side, O.J. was pretty solid defensively when guarding power guard Eric Gordon. He was able to keep in front of “E.J.” well enough so that the explosive guard was not able to make it to the rim on Mayo like he did on so many others. He also showed flashes of his offensive prowess and creativity in the lane, converting on two pretty ridiculous layups in the paint over Michael Beasley.
It was clear from the tip that Mayo’s head was not in the game and that he was out there to put points on the board, no matter how much it hurt his team. He seemed to lose the confidence and swagger that he is renowned for, looking like an average high school player instead of the future NBA All-Star he looked like all week in practice. Mayo will look to avenge his poor performance in the Nike Hoop Summit, as well as either the Sonny Vacarro Roundball Classic or the Jordan Classic. Simply put, this was the absolute worst performance that we have ever seen Mayo have on the biggest stage he has ever played on, and don’t expect this to happen again in any of the all star games this stud combo guard partakes in again.
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McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Three
March 28, 2007
Three days, three dominant performances from Mr. Mayo. The star point guard has shown the ability to score on absolutely anyone if he wants, while also getting everyone else on his team involved. He scored 7 straight points at one point through a contested three pointer and two gorgeous takes to the basket, only to have an assist the next time down the floor, and yet another three pointer on the following possession. The future Trojan has looked like an NBA player competing with high school players throughout all of the practices, and don’t expect that to change during the game Wednesday evening.
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McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Two
March 27, 2007
DraftExpress: So it’s over. Your six year high school varsity career is over. What’s it like now that is all over?
Mayo: It’s good man, to put that behind you. What happened is history, and I can’t go back and change it. I just have to get ready for the future. I have to get ready for tomorrow.
DraftExpress: Now you mentioned your history….You had a great year on the court, a not so great year off the court with those few incidents. Can you tell me about what happened with those incidents?
Mayo: Well there weren’t too many incidents, just two. With the first one, the referee fell and I got accused of pushing him. With the other, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time in my neighborhood. There was a drug bust two houses down, by my friend’s house and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is all behind me now and I’ve just got to keep moving on.
DraftExpress: Now tell me what it was like in your last game for Huntington, where you threw the ball off of the glass to yourself for the dunk at the end of the game, only to then throw the ball into the crowd. What was going through your mind at that time?
Mayo: It was all emotions. Like you said, it’s been six years and that was my last game. It was all emotions and we had won the state tournament. I didn’t mean for it to be a big deal, but it happened.
DraftExpress: Can you compare your experiences in high school basketball in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia to each other?
Mayo: It was great. I had great support and great love in all three states. I miss all three. I’ll be heading out to Cali next year, so it’s been a great experience to meet different people, play under different coaches, learn different things, and put them all into one.
DraftExpress: Now has Coach Floyd told you what position you’ll be playing at USC? Will you be playing point or shooting guard?
Mayo: He said in the NBA I’m going to be a one, so I’m going to play the one. It’s always good to be a one with two guard skills, as far as shooting. Shooting is probably the last thing I need to work on. I really need to just work on controlling the tempo of the game, controlling the ball, and making players around me better.
DraftExpress: Who is your pick to win the final four?
Mayo: I had Kansas.
DraftExpress: Well with them being out, who are you going with?
Mayo: I’ve gotta go Ohio State. Greg and Mike, they’re winners. They were winners at the high school level. Now they’re doing it in college, so I think they’ve got the best chance.
DraftExpress: Obviously it’s not an option for you now, but what would you have done had the NBA not instilled their age rule?
Mayo: I still would have went to college. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. The NBA is going to be there as long as you take care of your business, and that’s always what I’ve planned on doing.
DraftExpress: Do you prefer the McDonald’s game as it is now with no scouts here, or do you think it would better with scouts here because it would make everyone step up their competition a bit?
Mayo: I can only speak for the east side, but on the east team, the competition is rising every day. Everyone is competing and playing hard, and that’s what it’s all about. The scouts at times could be an extra distraction. Now this way you have to focus on playing hard and hopefully going well on Wednesday.
DraftExpress: They still have you listed for both the Roundball and Jordan games. Have you made your mind up as to what game you’re going to play in yet?
Mayo: You’ve got to go with what they list. Roundball and Jordan. I might do both.
DraftExpress: Now you’re aware that if you play in both of those games, you’re ineligible for school, right?[ b]
Mayo: I was just saying “whatever they have listed”. I’m aware of the rule. I know you only get two all-star games. I’m just going to see what game best fits me, and have my Mom get off work for whatever one best fits her too.
[b]DraftExpress: What do you think about the way the summer camp circuit has changed? Do you like it with only one camp, or do you prefer it how it was when you were on the circuit with all three camps?
Mayo: I like it. I would have preferred if there was only one. That way all of the top players would have came to one camp instead of bs’g over a shoe thing, or whatever company sponsors your AAU team. I think that can be a distraction at times too. I think you should just get all of the best players in the country at one gym, on one floor, and let them go at it.
DraftExpress: Now you mentioned bs’g with shoe companies, can you tell me how much pressure these companies put on you to attend their camps and all-star games?
Mayo: There’s not really that much pressure. I kind of base it on who has the best players. I always felt like ABCD had most of the top players, so that’s where I went to see where I stood. There’s not really a lot of pressure, but it has a lot to do with loyalty and who takes care of your team. For me though, I just go where the best players are.
DraftExpress: Now have you considered the alternative options of bypassing going to college to get to the NBA? Specifically the D-League, playing in Europe, or possibly just training for a year?
Mayo: No, no, no. I have never considered that in any way, shape, or form. Even when there was an opportunity for me to go to the NBA out of high school, I always wanted to go to college. I want to be in college. I didn’t consider Europe, no D-League, none of that.
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McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day One
March 26, 2007
Mayo was downright amazing in the four on four drills, running point guard the entire time and playing set up man to teammates Gani Lawal and J.J. Hickson. His outstanding court vision was exhibited through his numerous no look passes in traffic and remarkable left handed passes off the dribble. As the games became closer, the Huntington star began to take over scoring as well, hitting countless three pointers and displaying the competitive instinct that the great ones have. There was little more that Mayo could have done on day one on the floor, besides beating Koufos and Calathes in two on two.
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Las Vegas AAU Summer Tournaments: Thoughts from Day Two
July 25, 2006
In the ultimate day of highs and lows, OJ Mayo put in a performance for the history books in D1's morning game against Derrick Rose and Meanstreets, but couldn’t keep the momentum going in the nightcap against the SoCal All-Stars.
The much-anticipated Mayo-Rose matchup finally took place, and didn’t disappoint in the least bit. Both players essentially did what they wanted on the offensive end, with Mayo going off from beyond the arc. Showing beautiful form on his jumper, Mayo hit deep three pointers from all over the court, even calling a bank from the wing. He didn’t attack the basket much, but he really didn’t need to. Every time his team needed a basket, Mayo would come through with a big 3-pointer. The D1 Greyhounds were in major need down by 3 and with time running out, when Mayo came up with a truly history-making moment. He exploded past the halfcourt line, pulling up from 25+ feet out. As he reached full extension on his jumper, a hard-charging Eric Gordon attempted to contest the shot from behind. Whether or not contact was actually made, the miracle shot hit the bottom of the net a split second after the referee blew his whistle. The crowd erupted, Mayo calmly hit the decisive free throw, and Rose dribbled the ball out of bounds at the buzzer. Mayo finished with 26 points, hitting 7 of 8 three-pointers, dishing out six assists, and committing not a single turnover. Nothing less than the stuff of legends, folks.
Unfortunately, Mayo couldn’t put in a repeat performance against the SoCal All-Stars, a game that pitted perhaps the two most talented AAU teams in the country against each other. D1 was probably sunk from the beginning, as Bill Walker missed the game due to injury. Forced to completely carry his team on the offensive end, it would have taken another 7 3-pointer outing from Mayo for D1 to win this game, and Mayo’s shot abandoned him in this one. He again got to the basket at will, but couldn’t finish early on. Several shots just rolled off the rim, and he had a 3-pointer rim out early in the half. Soon, SoCal was up by double digits and Mayo found himself on the bench. Mayo played a bit better in the second half, converting on an outside jumper and finishing a couple of nice transition drives, but the most anticipated AAU battle of the summer had already fizzled. This night belonged to Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings, and the SoCal All-Stars.
While Mayo wasn’t consistently scoring off the dribble today, his extreme quickness was still impossible to ignore. He attacks the defense relentlessly, hanging in the air for a teardrop off the glass or finding a teammate with a crisp bullet pass straight through the teeth of the defense. He is a blur in the open court, and continues to amaze with a seemingly endless variety of creative passes on the move. At the same time, Mayo probably still has a bit to learn about controlling tempo and playing under control. He is so creative on the move that he must constantly resist the urge to attempt the spectacular, risky play. His incredibly quick hands and remarkable anticipation ability should make him a dominant defender, but Mayo often takes plays off on the defensive end. Rose was able to get by him at will, and eventually he switched to an easier assignment. Mayo gets to almost any loose ball that he goes after, but he could give a more consistent effort on the defensive end. Even with the disappointing night cap, it is hard to understate his charisma, polish, and professional potential. OJ Mayo is the type of talent that will likely star from the moment he steps onto an NBA court.
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Las Vegas AAU Summer Tournaments: Thoughts from Day One
July 23, 2006
Mayo put on a show today, proving why he has always been and always will be considered #1 prospect in his recruiting class. Even though he didn’t look to be going at full speed today and spent some time resting on the bench, he showed that he is the real deal and a couple of notches above anyone else here in Vegas.
From the get go, he displayed his awesome passing skills, twice drawing multiple defenders away from the hoop and hitting teammates on cuts to the basket for easy layups. Mayo also showed off his perfect shooting stroke early on. His form is picture perfect, and he releases the ball quickly with great elevation, making his shot virtually unblockable. The spin on his shot coupled with a high release point allows for some nice rolls off the rim. Mayo took 3 three pointers during the game, and knocked down all of them. In terms of handling the ball, he was able to get into the lane at will, and get past multiple defenders. This, coupled with his ability to see the court, and amazingly quick first step allow him to create at any given time throughout the game. He is very coordinated, and can go right or left at any given time, and can finish with both hands in traffic. On one occasion, Mayo received an alley-oop pass on the break, which he caught around waist level, and scoop-reversed in off the backboard in one motion. On another occasion, it looked like he would lose the ball trying to go right on the fast break, but at the last possible second he gained control and made a layup back over his head with his left hand. If he can’t get to the basket, Mayo uses an outstanding mid-range game to score. He has the ability to score from 10-15 feet using a runner or floater, s a shot he can make off balance and in traffic with amazing body control. He also has the ability to use the glass to finish from many different angles. Mayo was wild on a few occasions, trying to force unnecessary behind the back passes in traffic, likely an attempt to please the jam packed sold out crowd that came to watch him play. There were other times where he turned the ball over by throwing a few great passes that teammates couldn’t handle. On the defensive end, Mayo didn’t appear to give great effort unless the guy he was guarding challenged him intently with the ball. If he was beat, he seemed to give up on the play, and on more than one occasions showed that he doesn’t really understand the concept of how to play help defense. He does have quick hands, however, and has shown the potential to be a good defender in the past when the urge strikes him. Mayo has an NBA ready body, and it’s clear that he has spent a lot of time working himself into the condition he is currently in. What is scary is that as good as he is right now, he doesn’t appear to be anywhere near a finished product, particularly when you consider the freelancing way his team is managed. His AAU team doesn’t even run set plays, so some instruction on how to run an offense and play off the ball will be of great use to him at the next level. Mayo was mostly a 2 today, but his teammates deferred to him enough to let him dominate when he chose to.
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The Unofficial High School National Championship
February 24, 2006
Against Oak Hill, Mayo was forced to play shooting guard to utilize his scoring talents most. Because of this, we were not able to see the point guard skills that he displayed on the AAU circuit this summer. If you take away the first quarter (where Mayo shot 1-10 from the field and had only six points), he was downright amazing scoring. O.J. just makes things look so easy out there, splitting defenders and creating space at will. He showed NBA range on his three point shot as always and an effortless free throw stroke. When Mayo was running the show, he displayed great court vision and always seemed to find the open man. Unfortunately. though, he only was able to play point guard for a few possessions of the game because of his team’s need for him to score.
Aside from scoring, Mayo did a very nice job on the defensive end guarding Oak Hill’s plethora of high major players. He even had to guard 6’9 Michael Beasley for a few possessions, and was able to use his great strength to contain him. On the polar opposite side of things, Mayo also had to guard Tywon Lawson from time to time, and did a better job on Lawson then any of his other teammates were able to throughout the game.
This was your usual performance from Mayo. He didn’t really show us anything new. His competitive nature and will to win often forces him to take some questionable shots, as he sometimes feels that he needs to score 50 in order for his team to win, probably true in this particular game. What was very impressive about his performance today however was the fact that he only had one turnover while going up against such an athletic team as Oak Hil. Turnovers had plagued O.J. in the past, and it’s great to see that he’s finally getting that part of his game under control.
After this performance, there is no doubt in my mind that Mayo is the number one junior in the country. While teammate Bill Walker may have a little more potential because he is still very raw, it doesn’t change the fact that O.J. is a legit 6’5 with capabilities of playing both the point and shooting guard positions. It’s going to be interesting to see what the next step is for these two, as they have not even released a list of schools they are considering yet, but the rumor is that the two will land wherever Bob Huggins next destination is. Huggins has been close with both Mayo and Walker since they were younger, and since he is not currently a coach at the moment, has been able to recruit the duo without any rules or regulations against him. I personally have seen him at two North College Hill games I attended this year, so only time will tell if these rumors have any credibility or not.
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O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms (Part IV)
December 30, 2005
O.J. Mayo, 6-5, 205 pounds, point guard, 2007
41 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 12-28 FG, 3-12 3PT, 14-14 FT
This game was your typical Mayo performance. There were a few questionable shots, a few unnecessary three point attempts, but he still showed devastating quickness, a great handle for a guard his size, and NBA range on his jumpshot. O.J. easily could have had 50 points had a few of his three pointers not “toilet bowled” out. Don’t let his low shooting percentage from the land of three fool you however, as this kid is one of the very best three point shooters off of the dribble in all of high school. There might not be a better guard in the country with the ball in his hands in the closing seconds of a game in terms of creating his own shot.
What was most impressive however about Mayo was his intense, shutdown defense that he displayed in the second half. As we have mentioned before, O.J. is a great defender when he wants to be, so it was a pleasure to watch him put forth excellent effort on both ends. Some just don’t understand how draining it is to have your team’s entire offense ran through you on one end of the court, and then having to guard the opposing team’s best player on the other end of the floor, which made this performance all the more impressive.
O.J. also kept his turnovers under control much better then he did over the summer, showing the ability to run a team with fluidity. His passing skills have never been in question, as he would have had at least 10 assists if his teammates had better hands and/or were able to finish well inside.
O.J. Mayo Interview
Local Reporter: You’re home again! Is this still home, or is Cincinnati home?
Mayo: This is still home. This is always home.
Local Reporter: Do you look forward to coming back to this event every year?
Mayo: Yes sir. We try to get two games scheduled here every year to show off my abilities and my team.
Local Reporter: Is it hard to focus once the ball goes up in the air?
Mayo: It’s kind of hard to focus. There’s a lot of people in the crowd that you know who are talking to you and you want to talk back because you haven’t seen them in a long time, but you have to play the game.
Local Reporter: How much fun was today’s game as opposed to last night’s? (a 100 point win over a local WV team)
Mayo: It was real fun. It was a lot more competitive today. We played a real good Patterson team and we came out with a victory.
Local Reporter: Do you realize the schedule that you have over the next few weeks? With going to California and playing in Columbus? What’s that going to be like?
Mayo: It’s going to be really exciting. Just hopefully we’ll come out of those games with a win.
Local Reporter: Is it tiring at all? Do you ever get tired of this schedule with the travel?
Mayo: Sometimes. You have to rest your body, manage your time, and just take care of business.
Local Reporter: Tell me about business, just in general. Does this ever get to the point where you sky to the rim pretty easily? Does this ever get to the point to where you stand back and say “This is pretty easy for me right now”?
Mayo: I just try to go out and compete every night and better myself every time I step out on the floor. Just compete and play the game to compete and hopefully our team will come out with a win. We had a great team effort and we played good this weekend.
Local Reporter: How do guys like you and Billy manage to stay focused? You’re on Sports Illustrated covers…what do you guys envision after high school?
Mayo: College, a national championship, and then I’ll enter the Draft.
Local Reporter: As far as college, I’m not going to ask you where, but what kind of school? Do you have any preferences? Big city? Small town?
Mayo: The decision will be based on me and my family. We will make sure they have a great fan base, a great coach, and a great supporting cast once we arrive there.
Local Reporter: Are there any conferences or something?
Mayo: Not really. We’re kind of open right now and we’ll make a family decision later.
DraftExpress: With you being regarded as the top player in the class of 2007, what exactly is it that keeps you motivated to constantly improve upon your game?
Mayo: YOU. You made a comment that…that…uhh…I don’t know. Just make sure I’m happy, make sure my family is happy. Just keep competing.
DraftExpress: Well what areas of your game are you looking to work on the most?
Mayo: My explosiveness and quickness. At the same time, take less shots and shoot a higher percentage. Not force too many bad shots. Just play hard every play. When the clock’s ticking, I’m going to play hard.
DraftExpress: A lot of people spoke of Cincinnati being one of the favorites for you guys when Bob Huggins was there. Are you guys going to automatically strongly consider whatever school Hugs lands at next?
Mayo: I wouldn’t really say that. My family has a close relationship with Hugs in that we’ve known him since sixth grade. Our decision will be based on our family, and what best fits us.
DraftExpress: So what schools fit you best at the moment?
Mayo: Right now I haven’t really looked into it. I’m just trying to concentrate on the high school season. I’m just trying to have an undefeated season and continue to get better.
DraftExpress: Who would you say your toughest opponent that you’ve went up against thus far in your career has been?
Mayo: Everyone is tough because everyone comes at me hard. I would have to say Bill, my own teammate. Every day in practice, we just push each other. Then I’d probably have to say myself, as far as taking my time and playing the game the right way.
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O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: Interview (Part III)
August 11, 2005
O.J. Mayo Interview
DraftExpress: There have been a lot of conflicting reports as to what your actual list of prospective schools is. Can you set the record straight and tell me what schools you are considering?
Mayo: As far as right now, we’re totally open to whoever. I would like to be recruited by everyone and make a good choice for me and my family. Right now I’m open. We’ll put out an official list probably going into my senior year.
DraftExpress: Now a lot of people have reported that you guys are considering schools such as Cincinnati and West Virginia because of their low distance away from home. Is distance away from home a key factor with you guys?
Mayo: I’ve been away from home for three years now as far as West Virginia. I can adapt to any type of environment. You have to make sure of the right fan base, the right coach…everything is good.
DraftExpress: It’s been known that Keenan Ellis, Bill Walker, and you are a package deal…but I recently heard that Kevin Love will be attending school with you guys as well. Can you tell me a little bit about how that all came about?
Mayo: Well Kevin Love asked what schools we were going to and we told him we didn’t know. He asked if it would be ok if he went to school with us and we said “Sure, you can come to school. You can go to whatever school you want to”. He thinks that he wants to come in and be the powerhouse wherever we go.
DraftExpress: Tell me a little bit about why you’d like to play with Kevin Love.
Mayo: He’s a skilled player. He’s real good and it’d be great to play on his team.
DraftExpress: Let’s talk a little bit about this summer. Who do you think your toughest matchup has been thus far?
Mayo: I don’t know if I’ve really had any tough matchups. I played against a lot of good kids. The toughest thing is just trying to win. We have a really good team with a lot of great individual players. The toughest thing is just keeping everyone together.
DraftExpress: A lot of people thought your toughest matchup was against Paul Harris at ABCD. Do you want to tell me a little about that?
Mayo: It was a real intense game. We won the game, that’s all that matters. It was a long day. I was in the gym all the way from 7:30 AM up until that game. I did a lot of interviews. There are a lot of things people don’t know. It really doesn’t matter. We won the game, that’s all that matters.
DraftExpress: A lot of fans think you guys are just naturally gifted kids and they really don’t understand the freakish work ethic you guys have. Can you tell me a little about what kind of drills you guys go through?
Mayo: Just repetition in the gym as far as working on our weaknesses, lifting weights, trying to better our game in any way we can to make it easier for us.
DraftExpress: Well can you give me an example of what your daily routine is like?
Mayo: It’s a secret... (Laughs). It’s a secret.
DraftExpress: (laughs) Well can you at least tell me a little about how much time you guys spend in the gym each day.
Mayo: Usually I go to the gym and we’ll have a workout and practice. It can be 6 hours, 8 hours, however long it takes to get done.
DraftExpress: From my prospective, you seem to play much better with the ball in your hands. Do you have a preference as to playing with the ball in your hands at point or playing the two?
Mayo: I like playing with the ball, but whatever betters our team or makes it easier for our team…as long as we win, it really doesn’t matter.
DraftExpress: With the NBA’s age minimum of being at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school, there’s a big debate as to whether players will look to go to college for a year or opt to go to prep school instead before making the jump to the NBA. What are some of the pros and cons of each in your opinion?
Mayo: Going to college…if you’re an elite player and have the ability to go out of high school…why waste a year of going to college. You’re wasting the school’s scholarship money and everything else when they can go get a player who’s going to be there for three years. That’s the pros and cons.
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O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms (Part II)
August 11, 2005
O.J. Mayo is the definition of a scoring point guard. He possesses the size and skills to play off of the ball if need be, but his strength is definitely having the ball in his hands, looking to score first, then distributing the ball to his teammates. His size also allows him to be a great rebounder from the point guard position. The rising junior has picture perfect form on his shot, a quick release, and range beyond the NBA three point line. His superior quickness allows him to blow by defenders at will, allowing him to show nice passing skills, often to find an open teammate for a dunk or lay-up. Mayo’s ball handling skills are extraordinary for a player of his size, as he possesses a devastating crossover that might be seen on an AND1 mixtape. Fans must not blink an eye when watching O.J. or they could very easily miss a spectacular dunk due to his great leaping ability.
Defensively, the top junior in the country has all of the tools to be a lockdown defender. His combination of size, strength, and athleticism are everything you are looking for in a point guard and there are times when Mayo decides to show his shut down potential on the defensive end of the floor.
Now while O.J. has countless strengths on the floor, he does have a few weaknesses that he really must work on before his jump to the NBA. At times, Mayo is a pretty bad decision maker. Often when his team is down in the game, it is not uncommon to see him force a contested three pointer or drive into the lane and throw a bullet pass to an unsuspecting teammate. When his team is winning, the Cincinnati prospect is normally totally under control, though. Although O.J. possesses all of the tools to be a lockdown defender, there are times where it seems as if he just doesn’t try on the defensive end. Another weakness that many seem to feel Mayo has, which I strongly disagree with, is his attitude. I have spoken with O.J. on many occasions and can vogue that he is a really good kid with a great head on his shoulders. Some people just do not understand what it is like to constantly have racial slurs thrown at you every game, as if often the case when he is playing in Cincinnati, and sometimes even here in Vegas. Instead of reacting negativley towards the fans, O.J. just seems to turn it up another notch. People often also mistake his competitive nature for a “bad attitude”. While he definitley does talk his fair share of trash, there is a constant level of intensity and confidence within the talented guard that is not found in most players today. Simply put, Mayo is a fierce competitor who will give it his all each and every time he steps out on the floor.
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O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms
April 8, 2005
Mayo, a 6'5 204 lb. PG, is regarded by some as the best player in the country, no matter the grade. He doesn't really have any noticeable flaws when observing him in a setting like this. He has a very good handle, can stroke it from NBA three point range, and can create for others. O.J. plays during the high school season for Cincinnati North College Hill and over the summer for the D-1 Greyhounds AAU team. He plays against the top competition in the nation during the summer, as he has been playing at 17-U AAU level since he was in 8th grade. Due to the fact that Ohio does not allow middle school players to play high school basketball, Mayo played varsity basketball at Rose Hill Christian in Kentucky, where he averaged 21.8 points as a 7th grader and 20.5 points as an 8th grader. He then transferred to North College Hill and scored 30.9 points per game as a freshman and averaged 27.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.5 steals a game this past season. He plays like a man amongst boys. He can do absolutely anything he wants when he is on the floor. He has the looks and maturity of a grown man. In my opinion, he is hands down the best high school player in the country, regardless of age.
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