Thursday, March 22, 2007
Heard also as I was driving home this story about how O.J. Mayo, a high school star from West Virginia and probably the top senior recruited this year, decided to go to USC without ever being recruited by USC. Head coach Tim Floyd got a visit from an intermediary:
�O. J. wanted me to come here today,� the man told Floyd. �He wanted me to figure out who you are.�Can Tubby provide that to the Gophers? I don't know, but he's the biggest hiring that program has had in a very, very long time.
Floyd was desperate enough to play along. His starting point guard, Ryan Francis, had been murdered two months earlier. The backup, Gabe Pruitt, was in academic trouble. The third-stringer, a walk-on, was leaving college.
�Why aren�t you at Arizona or Connecticut?� Floyd recalled asking.
The man explained that Mayo wanted to market himself before going to the N.B.A., and that Los Angeles would give him the best possible platform.
�Then why aren�t you at U.C.L.A.?� Floyd asked.
The man shook his head. U.C.L.A. had already won 11 national championships. It had already produced many N.B.A. stars. Mayo wanted to be a pioneer for a new era.