Tim Floyd joked at the beginning of today’s press conference that O.J. Mayo would redshirt this year. Of course, that won’t be the case.
Mayo gave a cryptic answer when asked about the possibility of staying at USC more than one year.
“Right now, I plan on staying more than one year unless my situation changes and I have the opportunity to make a living for my family,” Mayo said.
Uh, I’d say the chance of him having that opportunity is pretty good since he enters the season projected as a lottery pick in the 2008 NBA draft, if not one of the top three selections.
“I’m working hard but I could maybe not have a good year. You never know. I can get hurt, have an Achilles’ heel injury, knee, anything.
“If (NBA) coaches call coach Floyd and I have the opportunity to get picked, maybe a lottery pick, and take care of my family, I’ll certainly have to look at that but right now, education-wise, I plan on coming back next year.”
Mayo said he wants to study business management and learn about investing in real estate.
“A friend who goes to SC said in Brentwood it’s $2,100 (a month) for an apartment,” Mayo said. “If there’s 700 rooms at $2,100, that’s a lot of money. So hopefully I can pursue a career in that and make some more money to support my family.”
Mayo spent many summer days at UCLA working out with NBA players such as Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Sam Cassell and Jalen Rose. He said Cassell took him under his wings.
“Cassell said, `You’re a great player. You should do this, this and this and it will make you that much better,’ ” Mayo said. “That excited me a lot that he had watched me before. He told me how to work on the pick-and-roll when defending it.”
Mayo said he came out to Los Angeles on his own, packing 10 outfits like he was going on a business trip. He calls his mother back in Huntington, W. Va., four to five times a week to let her know he is OK, but says the more he calls the more he gets homesick.
“There’s a lot of bad activities going on back home now, a lot of people getting shot, so she’s like, `I never thought I’d be so happy to have you 3,000 miles away,’ ” Mayo said. “The only thing she’s worried about is she always heard USC was in South Central, in a bad neighborhood. From the outside looking in, maybe it seems like a bad area, but you have campus police and they do a great job of patrolling the university. Everyone looks out for you at this university and makes sure nothing happens to you while on campus.”
Mayo said he hopes to get his mother out to games once or twice a month, even if he has to dip into his monthly stipend to get her a plane ticket. He said she works nine hours a day, six days a week as a nursing assistant. He said family and friends are already trying to raise money to charter two buses to New York for when the Trojans play Memphis at Madison Square Garden in December.