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October 9, 2006

Mayo playing with chip on shoulder

Point guard
6-5, 215 Huntington, W.Va.

Rivals.com Rankings
Rivals150 for 2007: No. 5 overall
2007 point guards: No. 2

Career Stats
2005-06 (Jr.) 28.8 8.8 5.8
2004-05 (Soph.) 28.1 7.7 8.1
2003-04 (Fr.) 31.0 9.0 7.0

Watch the latest highlights of O.J. Mayo in action

With such a polished and mature game, O.J. Mayo is as ready for the NBA as any prospect in the class of 2007. In fact, Mayo could probably be a starting guard for at least a dozen NBA teams this season.

So why isn't Mayo the No. 1 prospect in the Rivals150?

"The reason O.J. isn't No. 1 is actually a testament to his immense basketball ability," said Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer. "He is probably about as good now as he is going to be. He already has a refined and polished skill set and has the physical strength of a grown man. Also, his basketball IQ and competitiveness are top-notch.

"There are some other players in his class who caught up with O.J. this summer, and these guys have a higher ceiling - or more potential for improvement - than O.J. does."

One game in particular stands out as a testament to Mayo's ability. In a packed high school gym at The Big Time event in Las Vegas in late July, Mayo squared off against the two guards now ranked ahead of him - Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose.

With all three players rising to the occasion and playing at the top of their abilities, Rose put up an impressive triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. Mayo struggled to defend his slashing moves to the basket.

Gordon scored a game-high 28 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field, keeping his Meanstreet Express squad in control throughout the majority of the game.

But Mayo was undeterred by the fact that he was on the court against two other guard prospects who had finally taken their games to the elite status. Mayo calmly sank seven of eight 3-pointers against the Meanstreet Express' 2-3 zone.

Gordon seemingly sealed a worst-case scenario of overtime with a lay-up with 8.5 seconds left in the game. His basket put Meanstreet Express up 82-79. However, Mayo steadily streaked down the court and drew a foul while he nailed a three-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining. As expected, he knocked down the free throw to win the game for the D1 Greyhounds. Mayo finished with 26 points.

"Gordon and Rose are more athletic than Mayo, and Gordon is a better shooter/scorer. Rose is more of a pure point guard, but Mayo has that special competitiveness to pull out a win like he did in Vegas against those two," commented Meyer. "Most guys would get a little gun shy and back down some when they realize that the competition has caught up to them, especially when you have been at the top for years.

"Mayo, however, played with an even bigger chip on his shoulder and competed even harder."

Rivals.com is unveiling its preseason Elite Team for the Class of 2007. Comprised of the nation's top high school basketball stars, the Elite Team is broken down into position-specific first, second and third teams. These stars will soon be signing with the top college basketball programs en route to the NBA. We will announce one player each weekday from Oct. 2-20.

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