The Cost of Mayo May Keep Rising in South L.A.

Naturally, as soon as any high-profile college program is associated with some allegations of NCAA violations, the well of problems will only get deeper until the program is either punished or gets through the NCAA gauntlet unscathed, and in the era of one-and-done, this is becoming even more obvious.

The current allegations surrounding O.J. Mayo and USC are already affecting Tim Floyd’s recruiting class for the ’08-’09 season in damn near record time: the L.A. Times is reporting that top recruit and prep sensation DeMar DeRozan may ask out of his signed letter of intent if any severe penalties are pushed upon the Trojans next season. This is a concern for any program, but quite possibly doubly so for USC given DeRozian’s very public and celebrity-associated recruitment.

College basketball and football coaches have a practice of offering scholarships to players that they are on the fence about or normally would not if that player can bring in a bigger name with them (read Bruce Feldman’s Meat Market sometime; even though it is about Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss and college football, that stuff happens in college hoops, too). To Floyd and USC, DeMar DeRozian of Compton High School is most likely that bigger name landed. DeRozan’s signing of his letter of intent, however, got a lot more notice than usual.

Why’s that? Because as an eighth grader, he happened to be a star on a club team with a point guard named Percy Romeo Miller, who later played for Beverly Hills High School. That club team is run by Romeo’s father Percy, better known to the rest of us as Master P, and his son as Lil’ Romeo. Romeo Miller averaged 8.6 points a game his final season for the Hills, which finished last in its league. By all appearances, DeRozan and Miller seem to be a two-for-one deal. While their respective fathers deny it, DeRozan’s brother Jermaine claimed in the WSJ article that DeRozan was “seduced” by the Millers’ lifestyle — and the father of walk-on Ryan Weatherell believes it, claiming that Floyd told him it was such a deal.

And Rodney Guillory wanted him, too:

Frank DeRozan said Guillory once attempted to recruit DeMar to play for his Amateur Athletic Union team, and when his advances were rebuffed, Guillory told other AAU coaches that DeMar was 15 years old when in fact he was 13. The family then had to go to some lengths to straighten out the discrepancy.

DeRozan is most likely a member of the latest one-and-done class. I got the opportunity to watch DeRozan play when Compton HS came up for a local HS’s tourney a few months back — complete real deal, outshone all of the talent on hand; I don’t expect him to stay at USC more than a year, and if this gets any worse for USC, it might not be done in the Galen Center. Myles Brand is already spewing fire about committing three investigators to college basketball, while spewing bullshit about how college hoops are harder to police than any other sport (try one with an 85 scholly limit, Mr. Brand).

DeRozan’s brother Jermaine told the Times the incident is already serving as a “cautionary tale.” They’ve already dealt with Guillory, apparently, and from their accounts, he doesn’t seem to be a pleasant fellow if he doesn’t get what he wants — and now, DeRozan’s high school coach has Final Four teams calling him, wondering if DeMar might be interested in changing his mind — another tried-and-true late recruiting tactic.

This is going to get a whole lot uglier. Whether it becomes a full exposure of the seedy world behind big-time college recruiting or simply a witch hunt for the athlete and the alleged enabler who got caught by a whistleblower with his own obvious agenda has yet to be seen. Don’t be surprised if those in the media opt for the latter rather than a modern exposure of Bill Rhoden’s Conveyor Belt concept (from 40 Million Dollar Slaves.)

DeMar DeRozan might ask out is USC is punished in Mayo case [L.A. Times]
A Hot Prospect? [Wall Street Journal]
NCAA ramps up enforcement of men’s hoops recruiting [USA Today]
NCAA — Myles Brand — Adds Race to Mayo Mix [Sports on My Mind]

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No Love Lost Here.

Normally, I wouldn’t be all that interested in the usual piece about UCLA center Kevin Love returning to his home state tonight as the Bruins take on the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. It’s full of the usual stuff about the son of an Oregon star who spurned his father’s alma mater, etc. and how the crowd in Eugene’s going to be ranting against him. But this ish between Kevin’s dad Stan regarding the slights made by Ernie Kent seems, well, a bit divo:

Stan Love tells a story of how UCLA Coach Ben Howland and North Carolina Coach Roy Williams helped Kevin carry workout equipment into and out of a practice gym while Oregon Coach Ernie Kent “kept one eye on his BlackBerry and never lifted a finger.”

Dan Cogan, an Oregon sophomore and president of the Pit Crew, the gold-and-green-wearing students who will number about 1,700 and who have weekly meetings to get ready for new opponents, said indignation and resentment toward Love, who played at Lake Oswego High near Portland, is more pointed than it might be toward another in-state player who left Oregon.

“Stan did go to Oregon,” Cogan said. “When Kevin first committed to UCLA, Stan chose to take a shot at the basketball program and the university, so we don’t consider him to be a Duck. He’s a traitor, that’s what he is.

“Kevin, we have mixed feelings. I saw him play in high school and he’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen, but there’s a lot of guys from Lake Oswego who have a lot of negative feeling toward Kevin. There’s a lot of people up there who think Kevin is pretty high and mighty. And his dad is worse.”

It’ll be fascinating to see how much heckling Kevin and his dad actually get, but I’m amazed by what the whims of teenage boys and slighted parents can do. It seems weird that a sort of blood feud has opened right up, with the rabid nature of collegiate fans turning on the father, who betrayed them in a sense.

But really, coaches not picking up weights for your son is a slight in the recruiting of blue-chip athletes? Seriously, pick a better example — that just makes Stan Love look like a complete douchebag — and according to some Oregon faithful and those who followed Kevin through his high school career, he probably is.

Please Come Up Front For Your Book Report.

Right, so this month, the Deadspin Book Club tackled (oof!) Bruce Feldman’s Meat Market, all about a year of recruiting with now-former Ole Miss head football coach Ed Orgeron and his staff.

Our thoughts have been posted.