USC: O.J. Mayo

Five ex-Trojans in the NBA playoffs

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
3:04
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Upon statistical examination, it's true: The 2012 NBA playoffs are the first time in USC history that the Trojans have had five players participating in a single NBA postseason.

O.J. Mayo, Nick Young, Brian Scalabrine, Taj Gibson and Nikola Vucevic are all on playoff rosters this spring, and Mayo, Young and Gibson are all playing large roles for their respective squads.

Mayo has averaged 18.5 points in 26 minutes during the Memphis Grizzlies' first two games against the Los Angeles Clippers, with Young going directly against him and putting up 15 in 24 minutes.

Gibson has come off the bench in his customary role in Game 1 and Game 2 of the Chicago Bulls' series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Scalabrine was inactive for the Bulls' first game but has been moved up to the active list since Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Vucevic, who played with Gibson at USC during the 2008-2009 season, started 15 games for the Philadelphia 76ers during the regular season but hasn't yet seen the floor during the playoffs.

The biggest previous USC contingent in a single NBA playoffs? Four, in the 1975 edition, when Paul Westphal, John Block, Bill Hewitt and Ron Riley all participated. Block and Hewitt's Chicago Bulls lasted the longest, losing in 7 in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.

The Trojans also had a former player participate in the ABA playoffs that year for the Denver Nuggets, 6-foot guard Mack Calvin.

Kiffin chimes in on Miami case

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
1:48
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Asked after USC's Wednesday's morning practice if he had a quick, one- or two-word reaction to this week's Yahoo! Sports investigation of the Miami Hurricanes football program, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin responded with a brisk jab at the NCAA and those involved.

"It would take me a lot more than one or two words," he said, before finishing his session with the media and departing the practice field.

The investigation has alleged 72 Miami football players received extra benefits from convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro between the years 2002 and 2010. The Hurricanes' athletic director during most of that time was Paul Dee, a lawyer and longtime Miami staffer who chaired the Committee of Infractions while investigating USC's NCAA case last year.

The Trojans, of course, received a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period in relation to alleged extra benefits received by former running back Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo.

Video: Catching up with Davon Jefferson

July, 27, 2011
7/27/11
7:04
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One of the more odd stories of the past few years of USC basketball involved freshman phenom Davon Jefferson and his curious decision to join O.J. Mayo as a one-and-done following the 2007-2008 season in Troy.

Mayo went third overall; Jefferson, a potential first-rounder who averaged 12 points and six rebounds as a freshman, went undrafted. Since then, he's spent two years with Maccabi Haifa in Israel, part of it alongside Jeremy Tyler, and a year with AVSEL Villeurbanne in France. Earlier this month, he signed another one-year deal with Russian league squad BC Triumph Lyubertsy -- not exactly what he envisioned when leaving school early and not exactly what many college basketball pundits envisioned for a national top-10 recruit out of high school.

But so it goes. Jefferson put up solid numbers last season in France, averaging 18.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 34 games. He's also spent a couple summers in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas but has yet to latch on with a NBA team for any significant period of time.

While home from Europe for the summer, Jefferson underwent platelet-rich plasma therapy on an injured knee in Vancouver, Canada, which sidelined him for a few weeks. Now recovered, he made his organized-basketball debut last weekend at the Drew League in South L.A., near his hometown of Lynwood. The 6-8, 215-pound Jefferson looked as athletic as ever in Drew action as he led his team against a potent squad made up of Denver Nuggets' first-round selection Jordan Hamilton and two other former NBA players.

Asked afterward about his year with the Trojans, Jefferson was at first a bit defensive.

"It was cool, I enjoyed it," he said. "That's all I got to say about that."

Then, with a little bit of prodding, he opened up a bit.

"All positive memories," Jefferson said. "I still got a lot of people I talk to from USC, got a lot of friends, a lot of important people I met and got to know over the years. I enjoyed it, you know what I mean?

"One good year."

Here's a full one-on-one video conversation with the 24-year-old Jefferson:

Where are they now: O.J. Mayo

May, 17, 2011
5/17/11
11:46
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Associated Press
Former USC guard O.J. Mayo, who spent only one season with the Trojans in 2007-2008, averaged 11 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 2010-2011, more than seven points off his rookie-season pace.

O.J. Mayo spent only one season with the Trojans, a tumultuous one that did not reach its high expectations. His post-college career has been similar, a downward-trending three-year stint thus far that has put his future with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies into question.

He was perhaps the most decorated basketball recruit in USC history, and he led the Trojans to an impressive No. 6 seed in the 2008 NCAA tournament. But, regarding USC lore, that's about the only glory he has attached to his name.

Let's review Mayo's past, present and where he could be going in the second edition of a weekly feature appearing Tuesdays on the USC report:

College

Regardless of how Mayo got to Los Angeles, on the court, his first -- and only -- season in L.A. was a study in contrasts. Personally, he was successful. As a team, the Trojans were productive and efficient in stints but disappointing overall.

His numbers were good: 20.7 points, 3.3 assists per game and 1.5 steals per game, 41 percent 3-point shooting, only 30 missed free throws all season. But he also had a few memorably bad clunkers in important games, including a miserable four-point, 10-turnover day in a home loss to UCLA in February of 2008.

After that game, it seemed Mayo tried to take control of the rest of the season's games early and let his shot ride him through any struggles. That worked sometimes -- like the next week against Oregon, when he scored 32 points -- but not in a 6-16 shooting day in the Pac-10 semis against the Bruins and not enough in a 20-point performance when the Trojans were upset by Michael Beasley and Kansas State in the first round of NCAA's.

Pro

Mayo was drafted third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after his one season at USC and was then dealt to Memphis in a draft-day trade as part of a multi-player deal for fifth pick Kevin Love and others.

He immediately became the Grizzlies' No. 2 scorer, putting up 18.5 points per game that year as a 21-year-old rookie and leading the team in minutes. Those per-game numbers experienced a slight drop the next season, but his shooting percentage and turnover rate both improved considerably, a positive from Memphis' perspective.

But Mayo's minutes decreased a ton by January and the Grizzlies made it known he was an available commodity as the trade deadline approached in mid-February. And Memphis, in fact, ended up agreeing to a deal to send Mayo to the Indiana Pacers at the deadline -- but it turned out to be too late, the teams missing the NBA-mandated deadline by a matter of minutes.

And so he stayed with the Grizzlies as a reserve, averaging only 22 minutes per game after the deadline and struggled to produce the double-digit point nights that had been customary in his past.

Future

Luckily for Mayo -- and Memphis -- the now-23-year-old guard experienced a bit of a rebirth during the Western Conference semifinals. Going head-to-head with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 6-4 shooter found his outside stroke once again and helped the Grizzlies push the series all the way to seven games with consecutive 18-point games in the crucial third and fourth games.

The Grizzlies lost, sure, but Mayo proved his worth to a team playing without its top swingman, Rudy Gay, throughout the postseason.

Mayo's under contract for next season at nearly $6 million per season, and Memphis also has the opportunity to retain him for 2012-13 for $7.4 million.

With Gay entrenched as a scoring swingman with a contract more than twice the size of Mayo's, will the Grizzlies try to deal the USC product this offseason? For what it's worth, Mayo told Memphis reporters after the Grizzlies' Sunday loss to Oklahoma City that he hoped to return to the Grizzlies next season.

Stories from summer league

July, 12, 2010
7/12/10
3:47
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A few anecdotes and some video to pass on from the blog's two-day stay in Las Vegas, spent catching up with three former Trojans in action for their NBA squads in summer-league play:
  • First, a great one-on-one with Marcus Johnson, in which the former Trojan high-flyer explained why -- why he thought, at least -- Suns summer-league point guard extraordinaire Zabian Dowdell didn't pass him the ball at one point in Saturday's game for what had the makings of another one of the spectacular alley-oop dunks Johnson pulled down so often at USC. Kevin Arnovitz details it over on ESPN's TrueHoop blog as well: "I mean, some guys aren't used to me, so they're not sure if I can jump or not, so I understand that," Johnson said. "But you think you can?" Johnson: "I mean, I know I can. I think you think I can too." Here's a video with Johnson, including that exchange and his assessment of his performance through two summer league games:
  • And here's the video with DeRozan, in which the 20-year-old swingman talks about what he expects out of the Raptors' 2010-2011 season. You can also see DeRozan's humorous response when asked if he enjoyed playing alongside former UCLA guard Michael Roll for Toronto during the summer. Keep in mind that Roll is sitting directly to DeRozan's right and listening to every word of the conversation after the Raptors beat the Suns 103-69:
  • Dwight Lewis, who went undrafted last month despite a fairly prolific four-year career at USC, latched on to the Rockets for the summer after flirting with playing for the Mavs' summer-league team. It's proven to be a good decision for Lewis so far, as he has been effective as a swingman behind Jermaine Taylor and Chase Budinger. Here's a video with Lewis, taken after his 10-point performance in Friday's 100-82 Rockets win over Johnson's Suns. Highlights include Lewis talking about the Pac-10 connection as former Cal guard Patrick Christopher did lay-up drills just behind him and Lewis' comments on Rockets' first-round selection Patrick Patterson:
  • And, lastly, a few other USC-related items of note: Lewis added to his solid performance on Friday with nine points Saturday off the Rockets' bench. Remember Davon Jefferson? The former one-and-done Trojan, who spent the last two seasons playing professionally in Israel after failing to make an NBA roster when he declared for the 2008 draft, has resurfaced on Miami's squad. He'll make his summer debut tonight at 7 p.m. With five Trojans playing in Las Vegas, the only left is O.J. Mayo, also a one-and-done Trojan. A 2008 first-round pick, Mayo will open up play for the Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

USC releases original response to NCAA allegations

June, 11, 2010
6/11/10
8:38
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Shortly after the NCAA's sanctions became public at noon Thursday, USC released a statement sayingthe university would appeal the ruling because the penalties were "too severe" in relation to the alleged infractions.

Hours later, though, USC released something else that may be a lot more telling — its 169-page initial response to the NCAA, submitted back in December 2009. USC released the report on its official website around 4 p.m., prefacing it with just one single sentence: "Today, USC posted its original response (redacted to eliminate identifiers) to the allegations promulgated in the fall of 2009 by the NCAA regarding alleged rules violations."

The report details USC's case down to the T, specifying many individual interactions between players and marketers that appear questionably permissible at best and addressing nearly every issue that came up in today's NCAA report — as well as, perhaps most importantly, admitting wrongdoing.

And within the release comes this, which vibes directly with what coach Lane Kiffin said today regarding the forthcoming appeal: "While we agree that both [former running back Reggie Bush] and (former basketball guard O.J. Mayo) accepted certain benefits and subsequently competed while ineligible, we do not accept the allegations of impermissible benefits as true across the board."

It doesn't vibe, however, with former coach Pete Carroll's comments released today via YouTube. In the video, Carroll denied knowledge of the findings that appeared to have been sent to the NCAA by USC when Carroll was still in charge with the Trojans: "The primary issue throughout the process was, 'Did the university know?' The university didn't know. We didn't know. We were not aware of any of these findings. "

The full release is available here.

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