Fresh Squeezed

The next LeBron? Just look down the road to 15-year-old OJ Mayo.

Originally Published: November 24, 2003
By Carmen renee Thompson | ESPN The Magazine

The school cleaning lady is trying to be patient. It's 11 p.m., after all, and 15-year-old OJ Mayo is still doing wind sprints. And there's one more drill to go. His grandfather, Dwaine Barnes, barks out a spot on the floor (top of the key) and the number of shots he has to hit (14 of 20) before he can call it quits. Mayo, dripping sweat but not yet winded after hoisting nearly 300 shots already, collects himself -- and hits 18. Grinning at the cleaning lady, he bounds over to move his bookbag so she can roll up the bleachers. She smiles back. Word is, he's going to be famous someday.

Of course, he has to get used to ninth grade first. Because of LeBron, the searchlight will be forevermore trained on the kids. And not just on seniors biding time until they make the jump. Even freshman phenoms are beginning to feel the pressure of the quest. At the head of that class is Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard honing his game at North College Hill HS in suburban Cincinnati -- as fortune would have it, just down the interstate from LJ's old stomping grounds. Mayo already has a rep: recruiting analysts rated the Huntington, W.Va., native as the top eighth grader in America last season, and he's led his AAU team to two straight national titles. As a seventh grader he averaged 23.1 points for the high school varsity. But now that he's actually in high school, the heat will be turned up. Can he handle it? Here's a breakdown of his LeBronability: