After championships are won and lost, the NBA, college and high school basketball lays its foundation in the summer months. With the draft, the AAU circuit and summer camps giving rise to new stars replacing the old — plus the world’s most-watched basketball tournament getting underway in Beijing — we give you this summer’s Players 2 Watch, this week focusing on the NBA Draft…
O.J. Mayo has never it had easy. He’s never been able to just play ball; there’s always been some controversy, some drama, some parade of people trying to get a piece of the kid who’s been marked for basketball stardom since elementary school.
After making it through high school bent but not broken, O.J. averaged 20.7 points in his freshman year at USC, which was still considered a disappointment to those who have been subjected to O.J. hype for years and expected him to step right in and deliver a national championship. To no one’s surprise, Mayo declared for the NBA Draft soon after USC’s first-round NCAA Tournament exit, and at press time was expected to be a Top-5 pick.
It seemed the hard part was over. And then, an ESPN investigative report came to light about O.J.’s dealings with runners for sports agencies and possibly receiving cash and gifts while at USC. It cast yet another negative light on a player who’s name has been continually associated with more negative than positive in his short career, and potentially laying the groundwork for a pro career that will never be as simple as he’d like it to be.