Sunday, January 28, 2007

USC Hoops: One Year Wondering

Again, I have to ask: Is this how we're supposed to build a basketball program?

Apparently, USC's prized basketball recruit O.J. Mayo got himself caught up in a little on-court, two-technical foul incident that may put him on his high school team's bench for a couple games.

Here's the second-hand account in today's Los Angeles Times:
USC signee O.J. Mayo faces a two-game suspension after being ejected from a game Friday night involving his Huntington (W.Va.) High team in which he received two technical fouls and reportedly initiated contact with an official.

Mayo received one technical foul for taunting after scoring on a breakaway dunk, then a second technical for a verbal confrontation with players from the opposing team.

Mayo reportedly followed an official to the scorer's table to dispute the call and made contact, after which the official dropped to the court.
The opposing team's local paper has a slighly different account, but the The Huntington Herald-Dispatch (W. Va.) reported this:
Mayo received the first technical foul for taunting Capital player Tyrone Goard after a breakaway dunk that gave Huntington a 61-43 lead with 5:15 left in the game. Mayo did not react to the call and walked to the opposite end of the court but was followed by Capital players. A verbal confrontation escalated between Mayo and Capital players before Lazo assessed the second technical foul to Mayo but none to a Capital player. After the second technical foul, Mayo followed Lazo to the scorer's table to object. When the referee stopped, Mayo bumped into him from behind, and then Lazo fell to the ground.
Whatever. We weren't there, and the newspaper and radio accounts of what actually happened are supposedly varied, so who's to say what actually happened. We don't know whether or not Mayo had a legitimate reason to jaw with the opposing players and fans, and we don't know to what extent he made contact with the official.

What we do know is that Mayo will most likely be one-and-done after next season ... a year in which he supposedly thinks he can bring USC to national prominenance the way Patrick Ewing did at Georgetown.

We also know that USC head coach Tim Floyd didn't actually recruit Mayo. The kid decided that he wanted to become a Trojan, thinking that Los Angeles would be a good place to market himself for his entry into the League.

As Tom Purfield of the Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftan pointed out recently, Mayo appears to be a basketball mercenary.
Scanning the wire every working day in this profession reveals many eyebrow-raising stories. But every once in awhile, something small emerges that sheds light on a larger issue in the world of sport.

When Mayo signed his letter of intent to attend USC in November, his comments in an Associated Press story were striking, not so much for their arrogance but for the role he expects USC to play in his life.

"Coach (Tim) Floyd has been an NBA coach and the city of Los Angeles is a great marketing city," Mayo said. "Hopefully if everything goes well, I can market myself for the next level.

"I plan on making a living at this," Mayo said in another AP story. "I feel that's why I was born and put on this Earth, to be a leader, to be one of the greatest basketball players to ever play and to be a great example and role model for the kids and for different people out there who look up toward me."

[...] No excitement about becoming a part of the Southern Cal community. Not even a hint of plans to major in political science or economics.

It's all about making this one year of exclusion from the millionaire club of the NBA as productive as possible - not for the Trojans, mind you, but for O.J. Mayo's pro hoops future.
Leave it to someone who "scans the wire" for news because there is none in his own town to point out what many of us seem to be missing ... this Mayo kid may not be worthy of our Trojan Family.

Remember when Harold Miner (aka Baby Jordan) left USC early to begin his ill-fated career in the NBA? Remember Dwayne Jarrett's presser a few weeks ago announcing his early entry into the NFL?

They were crying, torn up emotionally because they were leaving USC. And we've seen it in other Trojans who understood what it meant to be part of the Trojan Family, what it means to be a Trojan for life.

We'll see what Mayo does, if and when he gets to USC. We don't know him well enough to pass judgement on him just yet. But something ... a few things actually ... tell us Mayo won't be crying when he leaves.

Fight On!

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