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Published: Friday, 3/24/2006

Ohio s Mr. Basketball to play in state championship game

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CINCINNATI O.J. Mayo, one of the most acclaimed high school basketball players in the country, will rejoin his team for Saturday s state Division III championship game after being banned from Thursday s semifinals.

Cincinnati North College Hill Principal Kelly Hughes said she met with Mayo after school today and told him he could travel with the team this evening to Columbus and can play Saturday.

Hughes on Thursday barred Mayo from accompanying the team to Thursday s semifinals. She said it involved a school matter, but she refused to give details, citing privacy issues.

It went very well, she said of their meeting today. Obviously, he s excited he will be able to travel with the team and participate in the game.

A message was left for head coach Jamie Mahaffey, who also was in the meeting.

Mayo s legal guardian, Dwaine Barnes, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Mayo was disciplined for missing a class at school earlier Thursday.

He missed his third-bell class, Barnes said today. I agree with the school s decision to hold him out. He has to understand he has to follow school rules ... he just made a poor decision. He learned from it, and he apologized to the team.

North College Hill (25-1), seeking its second straight state championship, plays Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph (21-5), which beat Wheelersburg 71-62 in the other semifinal. Without Mayo, North College Hill defeated Archbold 49-34.

Mayo, a 6-foot-5 junior who averages 28.8 points per game, won The Associated Press Mr. Basketball award in Ohio award Wednesday for the second straight year.

Mayo and teammate Bill Walker, a 6-6 junior, lead the Trojans, widely regarded as one of the best prep teams in the country.

Mahaffey said Thursday that Mayo felt badly that he couldn t make the trip.

He s very hurt by it and is sorry he s not here, Mahaffey said. He loves the game of basketball.

Mayo and Walker have close ties with former University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins, hired Thursday as coach at Kansas State. Mayo said earlier this week he and Walker may sign with whichever school hired Huggins.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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