Yesterday was undoubtedly a rough one for OJ Mayo confidant Rodney Guillory, with ESPN’s Kelly Naqi playing the Mike Wallace to Guillory’s General Westmoreland. IMG Hoops Academy trainer Dan Barto spent an afternoon with Mayo and Guillory last year, and paints a slightly more sympathetic portrait of the pair.
OJ was a pleasure to coach and I took the time to run him into the ground for about an hour and a half. His skill set has solid with the natural problem that young talented powerful players fight. Those problems were the ability to change speed, lowering the hips on moves, decelerating to finish, and core rotation coordination. With dead legs OJ continued to fire NBA threes with ease while he screamed at his partner for ending his efforts early.
Enter Rodney. Wait actually Rodney was there the whole time analyzing and pushing OJ to fight through and control his body language. Truly he was a mentor that day. He shared his story of how they met and reiterated the ESPN highlights of him just being straight forward with OJ about how life really is. At one point during our conversations he said, “The kid has a long way to go to meet the expectations that are out there.”
In many ways Rodney was right, he was also right about the fact that USC was a great choice because Tim Floyd had experience in the NBA and the other options Calipari and Pitino did not necessarily produce the hardest working, go getting professionals that Rodney wanted to instill into OJ. He also noted that LA is not the worst place to be in the world when you have spent the last five years in West Virginia and Ohio.
Next OJ ventured into the weight room and learned that he had a long ways to go to get his body to the level of an NBA veteran. Struggling with balance and rotational power activities again, he enjoyed the challenges and asked numerous questions. As he finished his supplemental shake in the steam room he pointed out that most of his competition probably spent their Friday afternoon in a different manner.
As I dropped them off at the infamous Infiniti truck, I questioned the relationship and the intentions in my mind. I then though back to all of the things that I have heard rumored in the college ranks. Things such as players being deliver to agents for future recruits, families getting high paying jobs in the college town that there son chooses, the amazing real estate quick flips that inner circles where able to pull off right around the time a recruit committed and the incredible upgrade in car choices.
After reliving my experience with OJ and Rodney, I think there are a lot worse things that the kid could have been surrounded with for the last 5 years. According to ESPN’s source Guillory may have spent used 250,000 over that time giving at least 30,000 to Mayo. That’s a salary of 44,000 a year before expenses or money spent or hell even gas for the Infiniti. In Los Angeles that is border line poverty. What anyone really gets out of the deal we may never know, but considering all of the things that go on in the sports business this probably is not uncommon. When you look at the fall out rate for highly regarded 9th graders over the following 5 years of basketball it looks like all of this may have been worth the investment however it happened.