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Friday, March 23rd 2007

So Much To Look Foward To…

Well, the further we go into this the more I look like a fool for defending and singing the praises of O.J. Mayo. After the “refgate,” the marijuana citation, comes Mayo’s final high school game. Up by 41 in the West Virginia H.S. championship he gets ejected:

The Word You’re Looking For Is “Self-Promoter”

It is clear by actions that the kid loves the spotlight. Which is why this New York Times article, referenced on PTI and via Conquest Chronicles, should come as no surprise.

The article recounts how Mayo’s “representative” visited Tim Floyd up out of the blue and announced Mayo was coming to USC. O.J. wouldn’t even hand Floyd a phone number where the coach could reach him, instead initiating all the contact himself.

Floyd remembers the meeting lasting 45 minutes. He learned that the man’s name was Ronald Guillory, and that he was an event promoter in Los Angeles who had befriended Mayo. Other than that, Floyd learned absolutely nothing.

“There was no way that kid was going to call,” Floyd said. “There was no way.”

When Floyd answered the phone, he heard a teenager’s voice on the other end: “Coach, this is O. J. Mayo. I’d like to come to your school.”

Mayo had not been on an official campus visit. He had not seen the new arena, the Galen Center. He did not know anything about the current roster.

Floyd did not believe it was possible to get a verbal commitment from a player he had recruited for less than one day, especially when that player was a 6-foot-5 sharpshooter with blue-chip strength, quickness and passing ability.

The oddest thing from the brief commitment call?

Mayo went through the priority list in his mind. “Don’t worry about recruiting,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

It is easy to sit here and criticize Mayo’s signing. The distractions he is likely to bring could be a bad thing. Especially with the team apparently playing so well, so far above expectations, without such a “star” hog. But, Tim Floyd still sees only positives in this amazing story, and since he has managed to turn this team around I suppose we must trust him,

Floyd believes that Mayo’s signing improved the team’s overall attitude. Mayo gave validation to a program that always trails U.S.C. football on its own campus and U.C.L.A. basketball in its own city.

“Now we’re getting as much love as those guys are,” forward Taj Gibson said.

There’s still always the chance that this entire ‘ordeal’ will never materialize. We know whose “in charge” in this situation – O.J. Mayo.

Until he shows up for freshman orientation, U.S.C. will have to wonder if Mayo is for real, or if he will skip college entirely and wait the required one year for the draft.

“I used to think about that, but not anymore,” Floyd said. “This guy wants to play for it all.”

You have to wonder though…with so many eggs put into the O.J. Mayo basket what will the impact be on the team next year if he doesn’t show up? If he shows up and is a jackass and bad influence? Is USC setting itself up for disappointment or a run to the Final Four or a even a Championship?