Mayo M.I.A at state

By Rusty Miller the associated press

COLUMBUS – 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 yesterday 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.”

In a statement she released after North College Hill (25-1) defeated Archbold 49-34 on last night, Hughes said, “A determination will be made on (Friday) as to whether O.J. Mayo will play in the state final game.”

Coach Jamie Mahaffey said he was uncertain whether Mayo would be permitted to play in Saturday’s championship game.

“I can’t say whether I expect him or not,” he said. “It will be a surprise.”

Mayo, a 6-foot-5 junior, is Ohio’s top high school basketball player. He won The Associated Press Mr. Basketball in Ohio award on Wednesday for the second straight year.

Mayo, who averaged 28.8 points a game this season, is the featured performer for the defending state champions and three-time defending AP poll champions.

He shares the spotlight on his team, ranked among the top five in the country by several publications, with 6-6 junior Bill Walker, also a first-team all-state selection by The Associated Press.

Walker was brilliant in the state semifinal victory, scoring 23 points with 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. He brought a crowd of 14,119 to its feet several times with ferocious dunks.

“I knew I had to step up and do more for our team,” Walker said.

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.”

This season hasn’t been a slam dunk for Mayo and his team. Mayo has two stress fractures in his left foot that will require surgery when the season is over. He also has been battling a nagging chest cold that, even after several weeks, still leaves him coughing.