Mayo looks to improve on strong rookie season
STRONG START: In his second season after leaving USC, OJ Mayo, guarded by Clippers guard Eric Gordon, is averaging 18 points while serving as the face of a young Memphis Grizzlies team looking to improve in the West. (Photo by Scott Kurtz).
By Tamara Latta
Sentinel Sports Writer
Memphis is one of the worst teams in the NBA, but don’t be so quick to count them out. If O.J. Mayo can become a team leader and flourish in the future of his career, look for him to put his team on the map.
“I want to take Memphis to a new chapter and became a winning team this season,” Mayo said.
In his second year, he’s clearly the rock of that organization. No disrespect to Rudy Gay, another future all-star, but this will be Mayo’s team in years to come. He recently showed off his athleticism against Denver scoring a career high of 41 points.
On his return to L.A. last week, Mayo went just 4-of-12 against the Clippers as he went up against Eric Gordon, whom he has competed against since college. After being the runner-up last season for rookie of the year, Mayo is still trying to improve in all aspects of the game. He’s got the potential to be one of the best players in the NBA, but needs to show maturity and growth as a player.Â
“I just need to be patient and let the game to me” said Mayo.
After being drafted by Memphis, Mayo quickly became entrenched as the go to guy on the team. His jump shot is the most dependable inside the arc. There were recent talks about who’d be the mega star in Memphis, after they acquired Zach Randolph in a trade and signed Allen Iverson during the off-season.
Mayo is confident that Iverson can come in and help this team as a veteran. Despite Iverson’s recent disgruntled comments to be a starter.
“It’s good to have Iverson on the team; he has been through top notch levels as a ball player. You’ve young players on this team that can learn so much from his game” said Mayo.”
With all the hard work Mayo has put in, he’s proving he can be a rising star in years to come. With all the talks about not being able to compete with guys like Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon, those whispers were put to rest last season after averaging 18.5 ppg and also made noise on the defensive end.
After his elite performance as a rookie he was invited to try out for the 2012 Olympic team.Â When asked about how things went, he seemed confident that there would be a 50/50 chance that he could make the team.
“I think I have a good chance of making the team; I worked very hard to get a spot” said Mayo.
Last year it was reported that Mayo had received gifts from his former college coach at USC Tim Floyd, which was a violation of the NCAA rules. The allegations surfaced as Mayo prepared to enter the 2008 NBA draft. His former friend stated that he had hand delivered the money to Mayo.
Although there still hasn’t been confirmation that any of those allegations was indeed true, it cost Floyd his job at USC. Mayo didn’t let any of the controversy affect his life in the NBA. But he was concerned about the reputation of his former coach.
“He’s a great guy; I spoke with him about four or five months ago. I wish him the best in anything he does” said Mayo.
With that said, he’s ready to resume his place as one of the rising stars in the NBA and will soon achieve a dream of superstardom he’s looked for since being in the spotlight at age 13.