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Tighten up that Entourage, OJ Mayo

I’ve already made it pretty clear that I can’t stand OJ Mayo for some of his on-court antics. I also said the NCAA was right to investigate him for accepting tickets to an NBA game because that came to close to crossing the line for amateurs going pro. And as you could imagine, I’m not at all surprised to hear the reports by ESPN that Mayo was supposedly accepting gifts from a potential agent the past few years. Dude’s been a lottery pick since sperm — of course agents will be on his jock trying to buy him cars (bikes?), phones, clothes, and whatever else you can think of. And judging by his Russian KGB like actions to tell Tim Floyd that OJ Mayo was coming to school, you could see he was a little out there and quite high profile. Here’s my one comment to OJ Mayo: tighten up that entourage.

I didn’t realize it until like now that the story got out there to ESPN because a former “associate” who used to be in Mayo’s inner circle decided to sell the goods. For all we know, the two-wheeling Mayo could be telling the truth that he did nothing wrong and this Louis Johnson character can just be out to get OJ. I certainly think that’s possible. But let’s be real here: almost all players are on the take. You don’t even have to be good and you still get plenty of perks playing at a big time school. Whether it’s better grades, improved housing, cars, clothes, or cash, almost all of these guys are on the take. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times. I can’t accuse OJ of doing anything wrong at this point except for having a bad entourage and keeping too high of a profile. When you come to LA to try and build a personality and a brand, you subject yourself to more scrutiny. So OJ: tighten up that entourage if you want to be a big-time personality.

And Pat Forde suggesting USC should get the death penalty for this when all the investigations haven’t even taken place? What a nut. If we investigated all D-I schools we’d get the same results and nobody would have scholarships. Then we’d be left with a whole bunch of walk-ons, and you still would have people coming to watch their alma-maters play. And you know what, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

8th Grader Commits to Kentucky Hoops

You’ve probably asked yourself at some point what age is too young? For Karl Malone, 11 might seem to be the appropriate answer. For Roger Clemens, 14 might be the breaking point. But for Billy Gillispie, 14 seems like it might be the prime age. Sports by Brooks brings it to my attention the news that Kentucky has offered a scholarship and received a commitment from an 8th grader. As you could probably imagine, the news has turned some heads:

When news of the commitment reached a meeting of the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors on Thursday, it stunned school President Lee T. Todd Jr.

“An eighth-grader?!” he blurted out.

After noting that plenty of time remained for such an early commitment to be rescinded, Todd expressed his wish that Kentucky not regularly seek a college choice from a child who had not yet entered high school.

To put this in proper prospective, Michael Avery (the middle-schooler in question), has not yet selected a high school! The Lake Sherwood kid is thinking about going to Crespi here in Encino, or potentially to a private school in Indiana. Look, I’m not out to say that you can’t tell if a basketball player’s exceptional even at the young age of 14, but just the thought is disturbing. Honestly, pick a high school first, and then worry about a college.

Chris Lofton’s Piss From Heaven

As I’m sure you have not seen because it was not placed prominently on a certain, popular sports website, but turns out Tennessee guard Chris Lofton is a cancer surviver. This is complete news to me and many other college basketball fans who have watched Lofton ball all season long. The news was pretty much kept quiet the past year and you couldn’t tell that Lofton was anything other than 100% healthy. So here’s the crazy part, want to know how it was found out Lofton had cancer? You’ll never guess:

He was diagnosed with cancer only a few days after Tennessee ended its 2006-07 season with a Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State in San Antonio. Miraculously, the cancer was discovered after Lofton was picked randomly following the first-round win over Long Beach State to submit to an NCAA-mandated drug test. The results turned up positive, and Tennessee officials weren’t notified until the day of the Ohio State game.

What nobody knew at the time, at least for certain, was that what actually showed up on that test was a tumor marker.

It’s a test that might have saved Lofton’s life.

It was indeed a cancerous tumor as they came to find out through further testing, and a few days after the season ended, Lofton had surgery to remove the tumor. There are several miraculous aspects to this story. First, it’s incredible that cancer was discovered through an NCAA drug test. Secondly, it’s impressive that in this day in age they were able to keep the news away from the media. And lastly, I’m quite impressed by Lofton that he kept this story private. He didn’t want any excuses for his play during the year and he probably didn’t want any questions about his health. My kind of guy. I don’t think he’ll make much in the pros, but that doesn’t matter — dude seems like a gamer to me and he’s healthy now.

Craig Ehlo: Cuban Will Pursue Bob Knight

So we’ve already established that the Mavericks fired coach Avery Johnson in the wake of their first round playoff exit. I always say you have to see what’s out there first before you move on, but perhaps this is best for both parties. Now the question for Dallas becomes who do they hire? There aren’t too many big names out there I can think of, and we all know my buddy LB already took a gig with Charlotte. So where does that leave Dallas? Craig Ehlo joined Arnie Spanier on Sporting News Radio Wednesday and offered this possibility:

I think Mark Cuban will actually go after Bobby Knight. You know he just lives in Lubbock, Texas only 375 miles west of there. Cuban is an Indiana grad and I wouldn’t put it past him to offer something to Bobby Knight if Bobby Knight would be willing.

Let’s see, Cuban could offer something, but I don’t see any chance that Bob Knight takes it. He’s already gone on a limb by taking a job with ESPN, is there really a chance he tries out the pro game? I don’t think Knight wants any part of the professional ballplayer. Bob Knight not being able to pick and choose who is on his team via recruiting? Not a good mix. Not going to happen, though the thought is awesome. And who knows, Cuban could try to make something happen here — he’s all about the splash, and hot damn, this would be a waterfall.

Your Chance to Golf with Bob Knight

So far I’ve had a few ideas of how LBS could scrape together some funds and put them to good use. At first it was to buy one of Michael Vick’s pitbulls and make it the official site mascot. Then it was to pool together some money to buy the naming rights to Candlestick Park. Now, I think we need to get together and send one of the readers off for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

As part of his yearly fundraiser for cancer research, Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale is offering the opportunity for a round of golf with Bob Knight and John Havlicek on May 16 at the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.

Bids for two threesomes will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. Saturday for nine holes with each basketball legend.

Bids start at $10,000 and include 18 holes of golf in the morning, a pre-gala party and the third annual Dick Vitale Gala for Cancer Research that evening at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota.

In this case, Havlicek would be the name in the small print at the bottom of the marquee. He’s just like a side dish. Anyway, I don’t know about you guys, but I think 10 g’s is more than doable. And if we do come through on this, I want the real Bob Knight in the threesome. None of this Mr. TV Niceguy stuff. If we’re paying top dollar for Bob Knight, I want the whole f-bomb dropping, fellow-man berating, chair-throwing, sweater-wearing Knight. Anything less would be absolutely unacceptable.

Was Nice Knowing You, Love & Collison

The LA Times reports that both Kevin Love and Darren Collison plan to enter the NBA draft, an announcement I expect to come officially from Ben Howland sometime today. I can’t say I’m too surprised that Love is going. It was said that Love would have gone pro after high school if it weren’t for the rule change. There was that small chance he could have elected to return to school, but alas, greener pastures await. If I were him, I probably would be eager to go make that money as well, though another year in school probably couldn’t hurt his game.

Now if Darren Collison really is planning to declare for the draft, I can’t say I agree with the decision. True, Collison is still a talented point guard with deathly quickness, but he got abused in two of the last three UCLA games by opposing guards. I just think it’s poor timing on his part. Now if Russell Westbrook were to declare, I would understand that; he’s fast, athletic, and well-suited for the NBA game. I could see him succeeding as early as next season in The Association. It’s possible that Collison won’t hire an agent and that he returns to school next season. I hope so. Either way, I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say the Pac-10 already looks wide open for the taking. Then again, Stanford is losing the Lopez’s, Arizona is losing Bayless and Budinger, and USC will lose Mayo. Maybe there’s still room for the Bruins at the top.

Brandon Rush Leaving on a High Note

There’s no better time to leave college for the pros than after you’ve won the National Championship game. That is, unless you’re the Florida Gators and you can all return and win back-to-back titles (but cost yourself a few slots if you’re Joakim Noah). Well now that his team has peaked by winning the title, Brandon Rush will leave for the NBA draft according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King. This isn’t much of a surprise considering the fact that it’s the third time he’s declared for the draft. The first time Rush declared for the draft was in high school, but he decided against it once he realized he wouldn’t be a high pick. He then declared last year but tore his ACL and had to return to school. Worked out well in the end.

With Rush already reportedly leaving — no surprise — hearing Rose and CDR’s response to the question about going pro cracked me up. Everybody and their mother (mine included) knows that Rose is going to the NBA where he’ll no doubt be a top three pick, if not the first overall selection. And though it was a completely inappropriate question because his team had just lost the title game, he was asked about his future plans. Rose mumbled something about talking to his family and making a decision in the future. CDR gave the old “yeah, whatever he said” response. That pretty much says to me that they’re both gone.

And while we’re on the subject, I really appreciate John Calipari’s candor in regards to this issue. He has said and continues to say that he wants the best for his players; if they’re going to be first-round picks, he feels they have to pursue the opportunity. And honestly, if I were those guys, I’d be gone as well. That’s where Bob Knight’s thoughtst on the subject comes in, and he’s completely right. The one-and-done rule is eliminating the integrity in collegiate athletics and making a mockery of the concept of student athletes.