The kid who won’t be helping USC’s basketball team this week in the NCAA Tournament … no, not O.J. Mayo

Brandon Jennings (linked here) is the 6-foot-1 point guard out of Dominguez High (who then transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia), who then made everyone think he was going to USC with a verbal commitment. Then he signed a letter of intent with Arizona. He then was named 2008 Naismith High School Basketball Player.

Then he went to play pro ball in Europe for $1.65 mil, plus a $2 mil sponsorship from Under Armour. Plus a new friend in that sleezeball Sonny Vaccaro.

He’s profiled on the newest HBO “Real Sports” (tonight, 10 p.m.) with Bryant Gumbel.

Playing for Virtus Roma in the demanding European league hasn’t been so easy for the 19-year-old. But he does see a silver lining as he develops his game while being a spot starter in Italy:

“Could be worse. I could be in college. I could be in class right now.”

That’s the spirit of education talking.

Also on the show:
As the first brother and sister to coach in an NCAA tournament in the same season, University of Pittsburgh men’s coach Jamie Dixon (North Hollywood, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks High) and West Point women’s coach Maggie Dixon both faced bright futures. But in April 2006, Maggie died of heart failure at age 28. Though devastated by the tragedy, Jamie Dixon has continued to succeed at Pittsburgh, and now has the team primed for a big run in the NCAA Tournament after a bruising Big East regular season. Jon Frankel visits with the Panthers’ leader.

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