AKRON, OHIO - Being next is never easy. So when O.J. Mayo and his D1 Greyhounds traveled to King James country people wanted to know if the Cincinnati schoolboy is as good as Akron's favorite son. Mayo certainly gave people to talk about as he dazzled in the championship game of the first annual King James Shooting Stars Classic.
Mayo led the way in a 86-65 win over Triple Threat to claim the tournament title. The No. 1 player in the class of 2007 scored 25 points (9-16 FG) and seven assists. He was named tournament MVP for his efforts but deflected the well-earned individual attention to his teammates.
"This is the first time we've all been able to play together this spring and it feels good to really start off on a good foot," Mayo said. "We started the season as the number one team and we want to finish as the number one team. To do this in Ohio where we are from means a lot to us. We wanted to win it where it all got started."
Mayo gave little reason to doubt his standing as the class's top player this weekend and his play down the stretch when his running mate Bill Walker went down to cramps was on a different level. Mayo scored, passed, defended, etc., etc., etc. Finding words to describe his play is a difficult task these days.
Mayo had help from Alex Tyus, the bouncy forward from Harmony Prep. The high-flyer stepped into the spotlight that was left by Walker. Tyus had a near perfect day, scoring 20 points on 10 of 11 shooting from the field and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Tyus is still getting acclimated to the American time zone but he sure didn't play like it. The four-star forward just returned from a school trip to Europe on Thursday and admitted his mind was still in a gondola in Venice at some points in the tourney. But not in the championship.
Tyus's success came in large part to the terrific passing and penetration from Mayo.
"Alex is a great finisher and if you put him in a position to succeed, he won't disappoint you," Mayo said. "He was what we needed if we wanted to break away."
"(Mayo) is just so fun to play with because you know he is going to get you the ball," Tyus said. "I just catch it and dunk it."
Tyus did plenty of that. Nine of his ten made field goals were dunks.
"I feel like we lived up to the hype this weekend," Tyus said. "People said we might not be able to win it but we came in here and proved that we could. That's pretty big time."
Triple Threat kept the game close in the first half thanks to the play of sophomore big man Chris Braswell, who scored six of his eight points in the first quarter. He rebounded the ball well and continued to show off his offensive skill set in the post and from the high block. But the talented 2008 prospect trailed off late the game.
Maryland commit Jeff Jones picked up the scoring load though, scoring a team high 26 points but struggled with his shot. The 6-foot-3 guard connected on just six of 18 from the floor.
Overall, it was a good weekend for the four-star guard but his shots weren't falling like they were at the start of the tournament.
Staying consistently impressive throughout was Jeff Allen, a Virginia Tech commitment. The long-armed 6-foot-7 forward from Oak Hill Academy (and soon to be Hargrave) scored 17 points on seven of 11 shooting from the floor.