Principal bans prep star Mayo from state semifinal

Updated: March 23, 2006, 11:06 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press