COLUMBUS - Imagine fans show up for your games and are disappointed if: a) your team doesn't win by 50 points, b) you don't score 40, and c) you don't meet their minimum requirement of dunks and 3-pointers.
Welcome to the world of O.J. Mayo, the Associated Press Mr. Basketball in Ohio for the second straight year.
"I can't worry about that," he said when asked about the unreal expectations of spectators. "If I did, I don't know where my head would be."
Mayo, a 6-foot-5 junior at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, measures up to most expectations. He's a typical kid off the court, he's a brilliant and creative artist on it, and he and his running mate and friend, Bill Walker, drive one of the nation's best prep teams.
Mayo averages 28.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 5 steals for the AP poll champion Trojans (24-1), who will be seeking their second consecutive Division III state championship this week at Ohio State's Value City Arena. With just three losses in three seasons - the one this year came last month against national powerhouse Oak Hill (Va.) Academy before more than 16,000 fans at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati - North College Hill is considered one of the top teams in the land.
Walker is Robin to Mayo's Batman, a dominating big man who is as physically intimidating as Mayo is smooth and unassuming. Mayo frequently refers to "we" and "us" when answering questions, as if he and Walker - also a first-team All-Ohio selection by the AP - cannot be separated.
"We've played all right this season," Mayo said. "We've gotten more help from our team this year, so we didn't have to do as much."
Last year's Mr. Basketball plaque stays at Mayo's mother's home in Huntington, W.Va., while her son attends school in Cincinnati. He is watched over by relatives, friends, NCH coach Jamie Mahaffey and his teammates.
"O.J. has matured a lot," said Mahaffey, who played at Miami (Ohio). "On the court, he's more consistent and he's shooting the ball a lot better. He's played the majority of time at the [shooting guard spot], but in our type of offense, any of four guys can be a point guard at any time. He's handled that responsibility and has taken more of a leadership role on the team."
The season hasn't gone completely smoothly.
Mayo has two stress fractures in his left foot that will require surgery when the season is over.
And Keenan Ellis, a 6-foot-11 shooter and shot-blocker, joined the team in midseason a year ago and helped the team win the state title, was kicked off the team midway through this season.
Other candidates for the 20th annual Mr. Basketball award included Canton McKinley's Raymar Morgan, Bellaire's Nate Davis, Jon Diebler of Upper Sandusky, Dante Jackson of Greenfield McClain, Solon's Dallas Lauderdale and Javonte Clanton of Reynoldsburg.
Mayo will receive a plaque in the shape of Ohio. He has a chance to match LeBron James' mark of three Mr. Basketball awards next year.
Bob Huggins is a coach without a college team, but he could end up with two of Ohio's top basketball players no matter where he lands.
O.J. Mayo, Ohio's two-time Associated Press Mr. Basketball, said yesterday that he and Cincinnati North College Hill teammate Bill Walker - both juniors - may go wherever the former University of Cincinnati coach goes.
"That could be right," Mayo said of the rumor that he and Walker would go with Huggins as a package deal.
"It could be a great thing to happen," Mayo said of going to play for Huggins. "At the same time, we have to see where he ends up, what the school's fan base is like, see what the fans think about him and make sure everything is great."
Huggins was forced out last August after 16 years as Cincinnati's coach.
At least two organizations reported yesterday that Huggins is a candidate for the Kansas State job.
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