‘O. J. Mayo doesn’t give out his cell’

by March 21, 2007

by Marcel Mutoni

There’s a great story in the NY Times today about USC recruit O.J. Mayo. Basically, one day last summer, some guy walked into Tim Floyd’s office and asked him two fairly simple questions:

“How would you like to have the best player in the country?”

“Have you heard of O. J. Mayo?”

Floyd, who you might remember from such classics as the 15-67 ’98 Bulls and 13-37 ’99 Bulls, hadn’t even bothered to send a recruiting letter to Mayo figuring his school had no shot at the stud point guard. Despite the coach’s skepticism, the stranger pressed on in a meeting that lasted about 45 minutes according to Floyd.

“O. J. wanted me to come here today,” the man told Floyd. “He wanted me to figure out who you are.”

The man explained that Mayo wanted to market himself before going to the N.B.A., and that Los Angeles would give him the best possible platform.

“Then why aren’t you at U.C.L.A.?” Floyd asked.

The man shook his head. U.C.L.A. had already won 11 national championships. It had already produced many N.B.A. stars. Mayo wanted to be a pioneer for a new era.

O.J. Mayo, who ended his high school career by throwing down a dunk and earned himself a technical foul thereafter by launching the ball into the delirious crowd, eventually called and informed a stunned Floyd that he was coming to USC without even having laid eyes on the campus or with any knowledge of the players on the roster.

It’s an amazing story, and it illustrates just how helpless even an institution as large and powerful as USC can be in the face of a big talent, with an even bigger ego.