<
>

Principal bans prep star Mayo from state semifinal

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- O.J. Mayo, one of the most acclaimed high
school players in the nation, was banned from Cincinnati North
College Hill's state semifinal game Thursday by the school's
principal.

Principal Kelly Hughes would not say why he was not playing.

"I would not term it a suspension," she said. "He will not be
traveling with the team and will not be playing in the game
tonight. The decision was made by me."

Hughes released a statement after North College Hill's 49-34 win
over Archbold saying Mayo's status for Saturday's state
championship game would be determined on Friday. NCH coach Jamie
Mahaffey said he didn't know if Mayo would be allowed to play in
the final.

Mayo, a 6-foot-5 junior, won The Associated Press Mr. Basketball
award in Ohio award on Wednesday for the second straight year.

Mayo, who averages 28.8 points per game, and teammate Bill
Walker, a 6-6 junior, are two of the top recruits in the country.
North College Hill, the defending state champion, is regarded as
one of the top prep teams in the country by several publications.

Mayo was not with the team when it stepped on the court about an
hour before the game Thursday evening. After a team picture was
taken, the players warmed up in the near-empty arena.

Mahaffey said later that Mayo felt badly that he couldn't make
the trip.

"He's very hurt by it and is sorry he's not here," Mahaffey
said. "He loves the game of basketball."

Mayo and Walker have close ties with former University of
Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins, who was hired Thursday as coach at
Kansas State. Mayo said this week he and Walker may sign with
whichever school hired Huggins.

After the game, the North College Hill players and coaches
declined to discuss Huggins' hiring.

The commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association,
Dan Ross, said he was not aware of Mayo being involved in any
violation of OHSAA rules.