O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms

O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker: High School Phenoms
Apr 08, 2005, 10:40 pm
Due to the massive amounts of coverage that has been bringing you draft fans, we got a little behind in one of the exclusive stories that we promised to bring you, but here it is. While we were covering the EA Sports Roundball Classic in Chicago on March 21st, we happened to get to see two of the top high school players in the nation, regardless of age, go through an extensive workout in front of only 10 or so people. Being from Ohio, I was immediately able to recognize star sophomore prospects O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker the second they walked in the gym. For those of you who don't know, both Mayo and Walker are consensus top 5 prospects in the class of 2007 Mayo the consensus #1.

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.

Bill Walker, a 6'7 WG/WF, is O.J.'s best friend and teammate on both the high school and AAU level. He partakes in daily workouts with O.J. during the high school season and the AAU season. During the high school season, the duo participates in daily three hour workouts. During the AAU season, those daily workouts range from three to six hours. Walker is unquestionably one of the top leapers in the country and possesses a deadly three point shot. The Vince Carter (Early Toronto and current New Jersey days) comparisons are inevitable, and I am hard-pressed to disagree with them. What makes Bill even more lethal is that he has a chiseled 220 pound physique that gives him the ability to outmuscle any player on the high school level if he chooses to post up. Barring an age limit being put in place, Bill and O.J. are definitely at the top of the list of draft prospects for the 2007 draft.

Now that I've given you guys a little bit of background information about these two, I'll tell you what the workout was like. The intensity of the workout was unparalleled. Walker and Mayo went for approximately an hour and a half non-stop and at full speed through a series of NBA drills. These drills included reading screens, full court dribbling drills leading right into jump shots, mid range jump shots, and attacking the basket. Just about the only knock on Bill Walker coming into this year was that he wasn't quite the strongest ball handler. Boy, has that changed. Bill was extremely fluid going up and down the floor at full speed in the ball handling drills. He was able to change directions and speeds very easily while keeping his head up and the ball low and tight. Bill began to shoot NBA three pointers off of these drills with absolute ease. At one time, we counted that Bill made 7 straight NBA three pointers in a row after dribbling full speed up the floor with a defender on him. Walker then showed off his midrange game, in which he has an absolutely astonishing lift on his shot, making it impossible for any defender to block. Walker then started attacking the basket, where he used his giant strides to get to the basket in the blink of an eye. He finished every one of his takes to the rim with an explosive dunk, where he was at least a foot above the rim on each and every one of them.

O.J. was going through the workout even though he had sprained his ankle in the high school state championship just two days earlier, showing his great toughness. In the full court ball handling drills that lead to NBA three pointers, O.J. handled the ball as if it was on a string and showed unlimited range. At one point, we counted him hitting 9 straight three pointers from NBA range (following which he missed one and then proceeded to hit 5 more in a row). Mayo did not have the usual (great) lift on his shot due to the ankle injury, but his mechanics were very impressive. Like Walker, O.J. showed a great midrange jumper with very quick release and good form. When it came to exploding to the basket, he was a bit limited because of the bum ankle, but he was still easily dunking the ball in all of the drills. We would see in a few minutes that even with a bad ankle, Mayo could still leap higher then the majority of college players.

At the conclusion of their workout, O.J. and Bill decided to have an impromptu dunk contest. Bill started off getting loose by easily touching the top of the square on the backboard. He then started off by throwing the ball off of the backboard and doing a reverse windmill dunk. This dunk would have easily gotten a perfect score in the NBA dunk contest. He then continued with a flurry of windmill, 360, and between the legs dunks that would have definitely given Josh Smith a run for his money. As for O.J., even though he was suffering from an ankle injury, he was still able to throw the ball off of the shot clock and dunk it (a la Gerald Green in the 2005 McDonald's dunk contest). He followed that with a flurry of windmill dunks and dunked 2 balls at the same time, reminiscent of the dunk Amir Johnson did in the McDonald's dunk contest.

While I had seen these two play before in person a few times and was fully aware of their talents, I had never seen anything like this in my life. These two looked like pro prospects, and they were only sophomores in high school. Both I and Prerak Shah (the other staff member in attendance) agreed that Mayo and Walker were more impressive than ANY of the players playing in the Roundball Classic. Only Gerald Green even came close. This should tell you how immensely talented these two sophomores are. Whether they are able to come out in the 2007 NBA draft right out of high school, or if they have to go to college for two years, you will hear the names of O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker very, very early on draft night.

OJ Mayo:

: What are your personal thoughts on the possible 20 year old age requirement that the NBA is considering imposing?

Mayo: Well, it's good for collegiate basketball as far as keeping all of the good players going to college and making it more exciting.

: Well if it were to be imposed, how would it effect your personal plans for after high school?

Mayo: It really wouldn't effect my plans at all because all along I've planned on going to college and seeing where I go from there.

: Who do you personally think should enter the NBA draft out of this year's high school class?

Mayo: Gerald Green

: There's talk of Andray Blatche, Brandon Rush, and Monta Ellis entering the draft. Do you think they're ready?

Mayo: I don't know if they're ready, but I think Gerald Green is the man of the 05 class.

: I don't know if you heard, but the vertical jump tester wasn't even high enough for him. It's 11'6 and he still got his hand over it.

Mayo: Yeah, I heard about that. That's crazy.

Bill Walker:

: What are your personal thoughts on the potential 20 year old age limit that the NBA is considering imposing?

Bill: It is what it is. What do I gotta do? It's right for the vets. I mean, they want to keep their jobs, and this will let them keep their jobs.

: Well if the age limit is imposed, you and O.J. are going to have to go to college. What colleges were you guys looking at?

Bill: We're just looking at conferences right now.

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