- By Chris Le
- I finally got a chance to see high school basketball phenom, O.J. Mayo, in action when his 6th ranked Huntington High (WV) took on St. Patrick (NJ), the top team in the country according to USA Today. Huntington lost 78-76 in overtime, but Mayo did not fail to impress on the national stage, showcasing a wide variety of moves and some nice range (9-17 from three-point land) on his way to scoring 47 points. The Mayo highlight for me, though, was a sick one-handed bounce pass through traffic to a teammate for an easy dunk. It was Magic-esque.
With his dynamic scoring ability, there’s no denying that Mayo is a star in the making. However, I’d like to see him involve his teammates more. Fellow teammate, Patrick Patterson—ranked the 11th best recruit in the nation by scouts.com—barely touched the ball. Granted, Mayo had some sweet dishes, but it looked like a one-man show way too often.
He could also stand to learn some defense. Too many times I saw Mayo’s hands at his waist, not running out to contest an open shooter. And aside from a few attempts to make a steal, he’s way too nonchalant on defense, willing to conserve his energy for when he has the ball in his hands. But it’s high school basketball. Why pass the ball when you’re unstoppable? Why play defense when you can simply outscore your opponent?
- Another standout was the previously mentioned Patrick Patterson, who posted a quiet double-double (10 points and 12 rebounds), but made his presence known on defense with at least 5 monster blocks. Huntington should’ve utilized him in the paint with more regularity, as it was obvious they couldn’t stop St. Patrick, especially PG, Corey Fisher (37 points). Posting up Patterson would’ve slowed the pace, giving Huntington a better chance of winning.
I hope PatPat goes to Duke, seeing how they could really use a low-post presence. If the Blue Devils do land Patterson, they will have one of the best incoming classes in the nation, with Kyle Singler—a consensus top-5 recruit who has been described as a more well-rounded version of Adam Morrison—Nolan Smith of Oak Hill Academy, and Taylor King from Mater Dei.
- Watching the Cavs take on the Bulls, I confirmed two things: 1.) LeBron James’ teammates are terrible, and 2.) he really isn’t trying as hard as he did last season.
Larry Hughes plays like a less athletic, unskilled version of LeBron, and his shot is just as erratic. Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao hustle, especially in trying to nab offensive boards; but in reality, they’re no more than glorified garbage men. The Cavs need a reliable perimeter shooter and a respectable post player. Seriously, though, who is LeBron’s most dependable outside shooter, Sasha Pavlovic? And I don’t think Zydrunas Ilgauskas instills fear in the hearts of many opponents.
With Cleveland’s personnel, I think they need to push the pace, run the floor like the Phoenix Suns. Of course, they don’t have the likes of Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire, but the Cavs are more equipped for that style of play as opposed to a half-court offense.
- It appears that the awfulness of King James’ teammates is rubbing off on him. Many around the league (and certain fantasy owners) have been disappointed with LeBron’s play as of late. I used to disagree, thinking “how could a stud who gives you 26.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists a game be underachieving?” Then I actually sat down and watched the Cavs play.
Like many have harped on, he settles way too much for long jumpers. I simply don’t understand your rationale, LeBron. You’ve proven to be the most unstoppable force in the league when driving to the rim; why don’t you do that every single time down the court?
Is he tired from last season’s playoff run, followed by a long summer playing with the U.S. National team? Has he given up on his teammates? Is he fed up with Coach Mike Brown?
Who knows? But what I do know is that LeBron needs to step up his play and the play of his teammates if he wants to make a push in the postseason.