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June 27, 2008

NBA Draft good for USC, bad for Mayo

There weren't any mentions of credit card fraud, NCAA violations or shady runners Thursday night at the NBA Draft.

Instead, the night celebrated a talented freshman class that got plucked in record numbers, and USC's O.J. Mayo was right at the top of the pile.

Mayo's selection third in the draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves made him the highest pick in Trojan history. The Boston Celtics selected Paul Westphal 10th in 1975.

Mayo never made it onto the Timberwolves' roster, as Memphis sent Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins and the rights to Kevin Love for the rights to Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner.

Here's a look at how the selection of Mayo affects USC and how the trade will affect Mayo's NBA career.

A new trend

Only four schools have had a player selected in the top 16 picks in each of the last two years, and the Trojans are one of them. Kansas, Florida and Texas are the other three.

With Mayo and guard Nick Young hearing their names called early on draft day, Trojan head coach Tim Floyd has established himself as a coach more-than capable of developing NBA talent.

Mayo arrived at USC largely because he couldn't enter the NBA Draft straight out of high school, and in many ways, Mayo lived up to the incredible hype.

His 20.7 points per game, 51 steals, 88 three-point baskets and 109 assists led the team, which made another appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"O.J. did a great job for us," Floyd said. "We haven't had a player work as hard as him to get to this point.

"We are very happy for him and believe he will have an exceptional career in the NBA."

And Mayo's success, along with Young's, should bode well as the Trojans continue to be players in the recruitment of top prep talent - like incoming freshman Demar DeRozan.

Small market Mayo

With Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley going one and two, respectively, in Thursday's draft, the chances of Mayo ending up in a major market shrunk dramatically.

With Mayo in Memphis, he ends up in a town that hasn't fully embraced NBA basketball. Nike didn't shy away, though, inking Mayo to a four-year endorsement deal. The deal, though, wasn't for "major" dollars, according to reports.

More importantly than the size of the market, though, is the fit within the team that selected Mayo.

Unfortunately for the ex-Trojan guard, things don't look too promising.

Memphis shipped its most reliable shooter to Minnesota in the trade to acquire Mayo. The Grizzlies' roster is also incredibly guard heavy.

Memphis selected Ohio State's Mike Conley Jr. early in last year's draft. They also have guards Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton - both former first-round picks.

The Grizzlies' top scorer, Rudy Gay, is at his best with the ball in his hands - much like Mayo.

Inside, Memphis acquired Darnell Jackson on draft night. They also have Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic.

Mayo figures to spend time at shooting guard if the Memphis roster stays in tact. Prior to the draft, Mayo made it no secret that he wanted to play point guard in the NBA.

While he's not in the perfect town or on the perfect team, Mayo's got the skills to succeed in the NBA.

It's only a matter of time.


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