O.J. Mayo and
North College Hill ( Ohio) High have done well by each other since the point
guard enrolled there three years ago (SI, Dec. 5). Mayo, 18, a junior and
two-time winner of Ohio's Mr. Basketball award, has lived up to his billing as
a future NBA superstar. NCH, a small public school, has reaped the
benefits--increased gate receipts, uniform donations from Reebok and
voter-approved tax revenue--of hosting a player with LeBron-like buzz.
their marriage may be headed for a divorce. Last month Mayo was suspended by
NCH, his third ban in a year. Neither NCH nor Mayo has commented, but Mayo's
close friend and teammate, Bill Walker, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Mayo
had been disciplined for fighting. (The previous suspensions were reportedly
for fighting and missing class.) A source close to Mayo told SI that the fight
involved a female student and that Mayo will remain enrolled but can't attend
classes with other students for the rest of the school year.
Two weeks ago Mayo
drove to Mouth of Wilson, Va., to inquire about transferring to prep powerhouse
Oak Hill Academy. At first the school was receptive--but Mayo neglected to
mention his latest suspension. After school officials learned about it through
news reports, they contacted Mayo last week and said he would not be admitted
to Oak Hill.
As Mayo ponders a
transfer, he may be distancing himself from Dwaine Barnes, his legal guardian
and summer coach--and the person who engineered his move to North College Hill.
According to the source, Mayo is "basically living on his own" in Ohio
because Barnes, whom Mayo calls his grandfather even though the two are
unrelated, now spends most of his time in his and Mayo's hometown of
Huntington, W.Va. ( Mayo's mother lives there; he has no contact with his
father.) Two weeks ago Mayo spurned Barnes's AAU team, the D-I Greyhounds, to
play for the Miami Tropics. Mayo rejoined the Greyhounds last weekend for a
tournament in Akron, but Tropics coach Art Alvarez has suggested Mayo could
play for the Tropics this summer.
NCH could suffer a
double loss: Walker, one of the nation's top five high school players, is
unlikely to return if Mayo goes. Still, athletic director Joe Nickel told SI
the school has benefited from having the pair for three years. "We're set
financially for the next 10 years because O.J. and Bill came to our
school," Nickel said. "No matter what happens, nobody can take that