O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms (Part II)

O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms (Part II)
Aug 11, 2005, 03:58 am
For one week in late July, the city of Las Vegas is the high school basketball capital of the United States. Virtually every player imaginable will be in Sin City for one of the three major AAU tournaments: The Nike Main Event, Adidas Super 64, and Reebok Big Time. The top players in the country play in the tournament which corresponds with their AAU team’s shoe affiliation. The Reebok Big Time happened to contain the two players we will be featuring in this article, rising juniors O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker. These two led their team to the championship game and absolutely dazzled all fans in attendance during the meantime. Mayo is a 6’5 scoring point guard with a streetball handle and NBA three point range. Walker is a 6’6 wing whose game is eerily reminiscent of Vince Carter during his first few years, slashing to the hole and powerfully dunking on any opposing foe in sight. DraftExpress first featured Mayo and Walker at the EA Sports Roundball Classic in March, where we were privileged to watch an astonishing workout in front of only 10 or so people. The fabulous duo from Cincinnati has lived up to their rep all summer by dominating the AAU circuit and DraftExpress’ Rodger Bohn will provide you with a detailed recap of their performance in Vegas, including a rare and exclusive interview with the two to cap it off.

O.J. Mayo
6’5; 205 lbs.; PG; 2007
D1 Greyhounds AAU
Cincinnati North College Hill HS (OH)

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.

Bill Walker
6’6; 220 lbs; WG/WF; 2007
D1 Greyhounds AAU
Cincinnati North College Hill HS (OH)

In all of my years of watching high school basketball, I have NEVER seen a player as electrifying as Bill Walker. He has the ability to just totally change a game with his amazing leaping ability. Anything that is within 10 feet of the rim at the level he plays at will automatically be dunked, and I am not exaggerating at all. It is safe to say that if Bill is able to get into the painted area, someone will be getting dunked on or he will be getting to the foul line. The powerful wing has the ability to take smaller defenders down to the blocks and post them with ease, or he can take bigger, slower defenders out to the perimeter and blow by them with his outstanding quickness. Walker possesses the ability to knock down the three point shot, although it is still very inconsistent at the moment. Like Mayo, Walker has all of the tools to become a lockdown defender. Great size, length, athleticism, lateral quickness, rotations…just about anything you can ask for in a wing player. His superior leaping ability allows him to be an above average shot blocker, which is always a bonus when dealing with a wing player.


Bill’s main weakness is his outside shot, which he is diligently working on. I had the pleasure to watch one of his workouts and it seems to be his main focus. The rising junior has nice form, excellent lift, and a high release point on his shot, but it can be a bit flat during the game, which accounts for his inconsistency. In his workouts, he doesn’t miss much because he has people reminding him to put more arc on his shot. For some reason, though, it just doesn’t seem to always carry over into the games. Walker’s next weakness is that he is only an average ball handler for a wing player, although he does possess an excellent crossover. Like his jumpshot, I remain confident that Bill will develop into an above average ball handler due to his great drive and superior work ethic.

If one had never seen either of these two play, you would probably come walking away from this tournament thinking Bill Walker was the top junior in the country. He continues to show more and more development in his outside game and will be absolutely unstoppable at the high school level once he hones his jumpshot a little more. You must keep in mind that O.J. had an off tournament and did not always play up to his usual level of ability. However, that does not take anything away from the amazing tournament that Bill Walker had.

Game Recaps

D1 Greyhounds 67, Spiece Indy Heat 69

Mayo- 22 points, 9/24 FG, 4/13 3PT, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 TO, 30 minutes

O.J. started the game off a bit off from the field, missing his first 5 or so shots. He rebounded later with a really nice alley oop that brought the crowd to their feet. For the majority of the first half, Mayo was playing off of the ball which you could clearly tell was bothering him. For the half, he only had 4 points on about 1/11 shooting.

The second half was a different story as Mayo almost single handedly led his team to a comeback victory through a barrage of three pointers and drives to the basket. Again in this half it was clear that O.J. played much better and preferred to have the ball in his hands. With a few minutes left in the game, Bill Walker went up for a dunk attempt and was sent crashing to the floor by Greg Oden. Mayo immediately came to his teammate’s defense and got up in Oden’s face, as a flagrant foul was called on the play. With his team down, he looked to carry the Greyhounds on his back in an attempt to overcome Oden’s Spiece Indy Heat. Although he did not succeed, his second half performance came quite close to knocking off the “Gentle Giant’s” Indy Heat team.

Walker- 15 points, 6/12 FG, 3/3 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 32 minutes

Bill played his usual game with 4 spectacular dunks, including one which would have put Ohio State recruit Daequan Cook on a poster. He showed the ability to break people down off of the dribble, but didn’t really display anything in terms of an outside jumpshot. Walker took a hard fall when he received a flagrant foul from Greg Oden and the two were given double technicals for the ordeal. Bill did a really nice job defensively on Daequan Cook and blocked a few shots, although he wasn’t given credit for any in the official box score.

D1 Greyhounds 83, Southern California All Stars 87

Mayo- 28 points, 8/25 FG, 1/12 3PT, 11/13 FT, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 TO, 3 steals, 31 minutes


O.J. had an off night shooting for the second game straight. He played off the ball quite a bit again this game, and again he struggled shooting because of that. O.J. did a good job rebounding the ball and showed that he is not afraid to mix it up inside. Although his shot was off this morning, Mayo was able to show that he can score with the best of them when need be.

Walker- 20 points, 8/15 FG, 2/3 3 PT, 2/2 FT, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 steals, 29 minutes

Walker really shocked a few people this morning with how fluid he looked out on the perimeter. He seemed very comfortable shooting the outside jumper and displayed a few awesome crossover dribbles. Of course, Bill had a few nasty throwdowns in this game, including an alley-oop from Mayo that nearly brought the house down. Defensively, he did a nice job holding Chase Budinger and Taylor King to marginal games each.

D1 Greyhounds 67, NY Panthers 65

Mayo- 26 points, 7/20 FG, 4/9 3PT, 8/9 FT, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 TO, 4 steals, 30 minutes

In the first half, O.J. looked like hands down the best player in the country. He had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists on 6/11 shooting and was downright dominant. Not coincidentally, Mayo had the ball in his hands (which he told us he prefers). He was knocking down tough three pointers, getting into the lane and hitting beautiful floaters, and distributing the ball very effectively. Defensively, he was able to give opposing Panther players fits with his tough on the ball defense and did an excellent job of getting in the passing lanes. There was not a whole lot more you could have asked of the kid.

The second half did not fare as well for the D1 star as he was forced to play off the ball again for some reason, even though he had just put on a dominant performance while running the point. He seemed to get a bit frustrated at times and forced a few bad shots, explaining why he only shot 1/9 from the field in the second half. Mayo would redeem himself, though.

With the game tied at 65 and around 8 seconds on the clock, D1 called timeout at half court. They designed a play for what looked like was going to be an open shot for O.J. He immediately received the inbound pass and came off of a ball screen. Mayo looked like he was going to shoot, then threw a perfect alley oop to Bill Walker who emphatically slammed it through the basket for the game winner. It was right up there with some of the best buzzer beaters in AAU basketball and left the gym shaking their head as if they did not believe what they just saw.

Walker- 18 points, 8/11 FG, 2/2 FT, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 steals, 25 minutes

The D1 wing had yet another impressive performance tonight, highlighted by his amazing alley oop dunk at the buzzer that left the crowd in hysterics. He had countless breath taking plays, including an alley oop pass that he caught from below his waist with his back to the basket where he was able to catch the ball, lay it in, and get fouled all while not facing the basket at all. Walker did miss one dunk, trying an insane windmill attempt on a fast break (which I have seen him make before) and had the ball rim out. Highlights aside, Bill showed an excellent crossover, which allowed him to get to the basket at will. One thing I did notice was that he normally preferred to go towards the middle of the floor, no matter which side he was on. Defensively, he played really nice defense on Lance Thomas, virtually making the class of 2006 star a non-factor. This game along with the game against the Southern California All Stars left some scouts stating that Walker was indeed the better prospect of the two.

D1 Greyhounds 89, NM Force Gold 66

I wasn’t in attendance for this game, but I picked up the box score.

Mayo- 19 points, 7/11 FG, 3/6 3PT, 2/2 FT, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal, 28 minutes

Walker- 19 points, 8/10 FG, 1/1 3PT, 2/6 FT, 23 minutes

Stats through Final 8

Mayo- 20.5 ppg, 43% FG, 32% 3PT, 90% FT, 7 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, 2.2 turnovers per game, 2 steals per game, 25 minutes per game

Walker- 15 ppg, 66% FG, 75 % 3PT (3/4), 77% FT, 4.2 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists a game, 1.5 TO per game, 23 minutes per game

Quarterfinals- D1 Greyhounds 79, Oakland Soldiers 63

Sadly, I missed this game as well. I was able to pick up the box score again though.

Mayo- 23 points, 8/15 FG, 1/3 3PT, 6/7 FT, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 TO, 1 steal, 30 minutes

Walker- 19 points, 8/9 FG, 3/3 FT, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, 28 minutes

Semi-Finals- D1 Greyhounds 87, Team Danny Williams 76

Mayo- 26 points, 7/25 FG, 2/9 3PT, 10/12 FT, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 TO, 2 steals, 31 minutes

O.J. had yet another off game shooting the ball from the field. He took some very poor shots and just seemed to be out of rhythm the majority of the game. Mayo made a few bad passes and seemed to be out of sync with his teammates. On a positive note, he really showed a effortless release on his outside jumper and was automatic when he got to the line. All in all though, a disappointing performance from the top junior in the land.

Walker- 27 points, 10/14 FG, 2/2 3 PT, 5/6 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 30 minutes

If you were only to watch this game, you would easily walk away with the opinion that Bill Walker was hands down the top player in the class of 2007. He absolutely dominated top 10 member of the class of 2006 Davon Jefferson. To give you an idea of how off the statisticians were, I counted three blocks by Walker within the first half, which he wasn’t given credit for any of them. On one play, he blocked a shot up in the air with his right hand, and then blocked it a second time by pinning the ball against the glass. When guarded by Jefferson, Bill took him outside and got to the basket with ease. When a smaller, quicker player was switched over on him, he immediately took his defender down the blocks and scored out of the post. To top things off, the high flyer ended the half with a pull up three pointer at the buzzer.


It’s pretty hard to imagine Bill being able to have a better performance than he put up in the first half, but he actually topped it in the second. He gave new meaning to the term “power wing” by muscling around whoever had the displeasure of guarding him, to the point that Team Danny Williams chose to retreat into a zone defense to stop Walker. As D1 always does when teams run zone, they have their hottest player receive the ball around half court and just hold it. This can go on for 30 seconds, 45 seconds, even minutes until the opposing team decides to come out of their zone and play man to man defense. Bill held the ball at half court for a little over a minute and called Davon Jefferson out to guard him. Jefferson seemed hesitant at coming out that far to guard the power wing, but the Team DW coach wanted him to go out all the way so he could draw a five second count on Walker. Jefferson came out all the way for the five count and Bill did a couple of jab steps before nearly sending Davon to the ground with a nasty crossover, driving down the middle of the lane, and dunking from about 10 feet away from the basket. I have never seen a gym explode the way this one did after that dunk. On the very next possession, Team DW fell back into their zone and Walker stood at half court holding the ball. Again Jefferson came out to guard him, this time being even more hesitant after what had happened last time. Once he got close enough for the five count, one jab step,…two jab steps…three jab steps…then another crossover and another dunk from even farther this time! The scout that I had sitting next to me swore that Walker’s foot was on the free throw line on the second dunk. I honestly sat there in bewilderment saying to myself “This is by far THE most exciting high school player I have EVER seen”. Overall, Bill showed a very complete game for a wing and left everyone in the gym making a case for him as top player in the country.

Finals- D1 Greyhounds 67, Spiece Indy Heat 73

Mayo- 23 points, 7/16 FG, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover

O.J. finally gave fans a glimpse of why he is the top player in the country in his final game in Vegas. He showed really nice court vision, played solid defense, and made pull-up three pointers look effortless. Mayo was able to get into the lane and create for his teammates with ease, and if he had shot the ball as much as he did in the majority of the other games, probably would have led his team to victory. The most impressive thing about O.J. in the finals was his amazing passion to knock off Oden. You could really tell that it meant a lot to him through the intensity and leadership that he showed on the floor. In my opinion, this was Mayo’s best game of the tournament.

Walker- 16 points

Bill had a very solid game, but wasn’t quite able to take over like he did in other games. Of course there were some amazing acrobatic plays, but it wasn’t quite the same “Sky Walker” that we had seen in the past few games. What really impressed me about Bill in this game however was his comfort level in shooting the outside jumper, which he knocked down with ease. Bill constantly attacked the basket and played really nice defense in a losing affair, but Spiece just proved to be too much with their trio of Ohio State recruits (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook) and their class of 2007 studs (Eric Gordon, Aaron Pogue).

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