Name: Ovinton J’Anthony (O.J.) Mayo
Position: PG, SG
Year: Class of 2007
AAU Team: DI Greyhounds
High School: Huntington HS (Huntington, WV)
College: University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
Date of Birth: 11/05/1987
The Early Years
OJ Mayo was born in Huntington, West Virginia on November 5, 1987. “O.J.”, which is short for Ovinton J’Anthony, was dunking in warmups on eight and a half foot rims at the age of 8 years old. At 11 years old, he signed his first autograph. At age 14, Mayo commuted and attended Rose Hill Christian School, a private school in Ashland, Kentucky. In Kentucky, a high school athlete could play varsity sports in the 7th grade. Mayo went on to average 23 points per game his first year on the varsity team playing against older, bigger, and more experienced competition. He received his first college recruitment letter during the 7th grade from Marshall University and began getting national exposure when he appeared in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and on ESPN and CNN. He averaged 20.5 as an eighth-grader and led his team to the Kentucky state tournament last season. Mayo also led his AAU team to two straight national titles.
In 2003, Mayo would transfer to North College Hill (NCH) High School for the 9th grade and move in with his grandfather who lived across the street from the high school. This allowed OJ to regularly arrive at the gym by 6 a.m. to shoot 500 jumpers and work on his game, going through various basketball drills. After school, he would go to the team practice where he played with teammate and good friend, Bill Walker, who also transferred from Rose Hill. After practice, Mayo, Walker, and their teammates would often stay until 10 or 11 at night to work on their games or workout. Soon, people were calling OJ Mayo the next LeBron James. Because of LeBron, high school players were being hyped earlier than ever and Mayo had already been written about in major sports magazines such as ESPN, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, and Slam. Mayo was being called “The Next One” in homage to LeBron James being “The Chosen One.”
In his first year (9th grade) as a true freshmen, at North College Hill, Mayo went on to average 31 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals a game and was selected as First Team All State, even though he was just a freshman. ESPN Outside the Lines had a feature on Mayo and his new found celebrity. O.J. Mayo ended the regular season with another triple-double, helping North College Hill, Ohio’s No. 1-ranked Division III team, finish the regular season 20-0. North College went on to lose in the state tournament to Reading, although Mayo was named Ohio Division III Player of the Year by the Associated Press.
As a sophomore, Mayo averaged 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists a game including scoring a school single-game record 56 points while adding nine rebounds and eight assists. Mayo and top-ranked North College Hill won their first Ohio Division III state basketball title. In addition to being named Associated Press Division III Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, OJ was also named Mr. Basketball of Ohio, becoming only the second sophomore to be given that honor (LeBron was the first).
In June, 2005, the NBA announced a change in the collective bargaining agreement that the age limit for entering the draft would increase from 18 to 19 (plus one year removed from high school). In his junior year, Mayo averaged 29 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals a game and was named ‘Mr. Basketball’ for the state of Ohio for the second year in a row. Mayo shared AP Division III player-of-the-year honors with three others, including teammate Bill Walker. North College Hill also won its second consecutive Division III boys’ state basketball championship as Mayo scored 26 points and dished out eight assists in the championship game and was named the tournament MVP.
In the summer, Mayo transferred back home and enrolled at Huntington High School for the 2006-07 school year.
In November, instead of waiting for the late signing period in April, Mayo announced and signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Southern California, telling friends he wanted to turn USC into a national power, much like Patrick Ewing transformed Georgetown in the early 1980s. “Los Angeles is a great basketball city and needs a (college) powerhouse. It’s the perfect situation,” Mayo said. “After (football) players like Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, the school is ready for a player of my caliber.”
O.J. Mayo averaged 28.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 6.1 rebounds a game, while leading the Huntington Highlanders (25-2) to an unprecedented third consecutive Class AAA state championship and won many awards including the National High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year by EA Sports.
O.J. Mayo made his debut with the Trojans scoring 32 points in a loss.