Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
8/29/2006 12:16:00 PM
O.J. Is Coming To Your Town
Super-recruit O.J. Mayo will be spending his senior season at home -- in Huntington.
Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography
O.J. Mayo may only be ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2007 by Rivals.com, but no other high-schooler, I think, is capable of making national headlines by transferring in August. Mayo confirmed on Tuesday in USA Today that he was leaving Cincinnati's North College Hill High to return to his original hometown of Huntington, W.V., for his senior season.
When I reached Huntington High athletic director Steve Morris on Monday, while Mayo was completing his last day of classes in Cincy, all Morris could say was, "We haven't seen him yet. I'm not going to lie to you. He's not here." But Morris had received, just on the strength of the rumors Mayo was homeward bound (as first reported by a TV station in West Virginia), nearly 100 calls and even one offer from ESPN to televise a 2006-07 game.
Huntington head coach Lloyd McGuffin said he was similarly in the dark on the situation. "I really have no idea [about Mayo]," he said Monday. "I was bringing in something from my car and somebody told me, 'Hey, you better watch TV.' I had to wait for them to say who was coming here."
Mayo -- as well as the revenue stream attached to him, and the rumors over disciplinary problems, and the strange course of his college recruitment -- is coming. Joe Nickel, the athletic director at North College Hill, where Mayo and cohort Bill Walker played for the past three seasons, told SI in May that "We're set financially for the next 10 years because O.J. and Bill came to our school. No matter what happens, nobody can take that away."
Huntington High was already set, basketball-wise, before Mayo: McGuffin's teams -- led by nationally ranked recruits Patrick Patterson (of MySpace fame), Jamaal Williams and Michael Taylor -- have won back-to-back state titles. Mayo said now they'll arguably be the "best team in the nation." And, for better or worse, they'll have to deal with the circus that follows him back to West Virginia.
If I was the coach at Huntington High I would not want Mayo. Obviously, they can win without him. Plus, why is he eligible and Bill Walker isn't? Too the best of my recollection they have played varsity basketball together since the seventh grade.
Walker was suspended b/c he played carsity basketball without Mayo while he was an "8th grader" in a state outside ohio. Then they moved him back to the eighth grade with mayo at cincinnati north college hill and he spent the last 3 seasons (freshman, soph., junior) playing with mayo.