<
>

USC-bound Mayo fuels Huntington's win at Cameron

1/31/2007 - USC Trojans

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Suspended prep star O.J. Mayo won a
temporary restraining order Tuesday that allowed him to play
later in the day for Huntington High against another nationally ranked opponent.

Cabell County Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon granted separate
requests by Mayo and five other Huntington players who were
suspended for two games stemming from a game against Charleston's Capital High last Friday.

The rulings allowed Mayo to play Tuesday night in Durham, N.C.,
against Artesia of Lakewood, Calif. Mayo scored 19 points before
fouling out with 2:38 remaining in Huntington's 73-66 win over
Artesia (21-2) at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


In West Virginia, O'Hanlon set hearings for the players for Feb.
9 and barred state athletic officials from imposing the suspensions
until a decision is made on the players' procedural rights to
appeal the penalties.


Mayo, a senior who is considered by some to be the nation's best guard prospect since LeBron James, received two technical fouls and was ejected, then he
followed referee Mike Lazo to the scorer's table and apparently
bumped the referee from behind.

Under state athletics rules, the penalty for receiving two technical fouls
in a game or being ejected from a game is a two-game suspension. A
student who "in protest lays hands or attempts to lay hands upon
an official" can be declared ineligible for up to a year.

Mayo's five teammates were suspended for leaving the bench area. Upon his ejection, Mayo was escorted off the court by a police officer.

"We feel O.J. certainly didn't do anything intentional," his
attorney, Mike Woelfel, who also is an assistant coach at
Huntington, told The Herald-Dispatch on Monday. "If there was
contact, it was inadvertent or may have been accidentally initiated
by the referee himself."

Huntington (16-0), ranked second in the most recent USA Today Super 25 boys basketball rankings, was also scheduled to play Friday against Scott
County (Ky.) in Lexington, Ky.

Under SSAC rules, if a student plays under a restraining order
that is later reversed, the team could be forced to forfeit any
victories in which the student played. Mike Hayden, executive
director of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities
Commission, didn't immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.

Mayo signed a letter of intent in November to play next season at USC.

The New York Times, in a story reported in Tuesday's editions, detailed the events that led to Mayo's ejection:

• Mayo was called for his first technical foul for taunting after a dunk late in the second half against Capital. Following that whistle, he walked to midcourt, where players from both teams had gathered and were jawing. Mayo then walked away.

• The second technical was called after Mayo walked back toward the players gathered at midcourt. From the video, which has been available on the Internet via the Web site of WSAZ in West Virginia, Mayo does not appear to say or do anything, The Times reported.

• But when Lazo, the official, walked to the scorer's table to report the technical, Mayo followed and appeared to make subtle, if any, contact with Lazo. The official then dropped suddenly to the ground. On the video, The Times said, it appeared Lazo's fall was exaggerated.

Lazo could not be reached for comment Monday, according to The Times.

"This official wanted to be the star of the show," William Bands, a lawyer in Charleston who watched from the stands, said, according to The Times. "That resulted in a situation that could have cost Huntington High School and the state of West Virginia a once-in-a-lifetime honor, to win a mythical national championship."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.