There was a great article in the NYT yesterday about high school phenom OJ May. Mayo Shows Vision On and Off the Court it was titled, and went about showing the bizarre nature of the star's recruitment. It starts off as if it were the beginning of a Hollywood slasher pic:
A stranger walked into the University of Southern California basketball office one day last summer and asked to speak to the head coach. The stranger did not make an appointment. He did not call ahead. Tim Floyd, the U.S.C. head coach, cannot explain why he agreed to see him.
“O. J. wanted me to come here today,” the man told Floyd. “He wanted me to figure out who you are.”
“Let me call him,” Floyd said.
The man shook his head again. “O. J. doesn’t give out his cell,” he said. “He’ll call you.”
But this is no regular slasher tale. That tale belongs to LA's other OJ. Now a new OJ seems poised to take on Hollywood.
USC Basketball has always been the bridesmaid to its cross-town rival UCLA. 11 national championships for UCLA to USC's zero. USC and Mayo both have a lot to gain from his one year on campus. USC Basketball gets the instant credibility and spotlight that it never would have without it. Mayo, on the other hand hopes to capitalize on the same media frenzy that catipulted Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush to stardom.
“Then why aren’t you at U.C.L.A.?” Tim Floyd asked. It's simple. UCLA is a team, and thrives on defense and cohesion. Even its stars like Arron Aflalo and Jordan Farmar understood the team aspect. They gave up the limelight for teamwork and success, and still receieved the recognition they deserved. Mayo isn't that kind of player. He wants the spotlight. He wants top billing. He wants to be the man.
With all this in mind, is USC better off without Mayo? For all the positives Mayo brings with him, there are far too many negatives that outweigh his one year presence. Look at the shady aspects that surrounded Reggie Bush in his last year, as well as what still clouds the university today. Now imagine that with a guy who has been around such situations since seventh grade. Let's take a look at just a few, in no particular order:
-Mayo busted for suspicion of pot (later cleared)
-Mayo bumps ref, gets ejected
-Mayo gets tosses ball into stands after dunk, gets ejected from final HS game
-In the past six years, Mayo has moved from West Virginia to Kentucky to Ohio and back to West Virginia
-He has been suspended at least three times for fights and other violations
Need I say more?
With all the baggage and complications that Mayo brings with him, the Trojans are better off without him. College Hoops is a team game. The biggest case in point stared USC right in the face last weekend - their defeat of Texas. Kevin Durant has been slobbered all over by media types nationwide, but as good as he is (REALLY good!), it was the team (USC) that beat the individual (Durant). By all indications Mayo is not one of those team players.
Mayo will provide nothing but a massive, temporary distraction for the Trojans. Reporters, documentary camera crews, and wanna-be agents hovering around the campus will do nothing to help advance the team. USC should build on their success this year and attract the kind of talent that will win ball-games and have the team first mentality. Mayo wants USC. Perhaps USC should just pass on the Mayo...
When Floyd put down the phone, he turned to his wife. “This ain’t happening,” he said. “But we’ve got to act like it is.”
Maybe USC should act like it shouldn't.