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]