Former NBA Player O.J. Mayo Impresses New Club, Fans in Hunan
O.J. Mayo, the third overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, has impressed his new boss and fans in Hunan province, China, after two pre-season games.
Hunan Yongsheng Basketball Club, a top side in China's second-tier National Basketball League (NBL), announced last Wednesday it had signed with Mayo. The signing triggered great attention in Hunan.
Over the weekend, Hunan Yongsheng won two pre-season games against another NBL side Guizhou, and the 32-year-old American shone at both games.
In Saturday's game, Mayo scored 24 points, the highest in the team. On Sunday, the guard scored 13 points in the first quarter, and contributed some critical defense in the last quarter to secure the win.
"We are doing good, we are still trying to get familiar with one another. As we get closer to the first game of the season, you'll see us playing better," Mayo said after Sunday's game held in Hunan Yongsheng's home court Changsha Social Work College Arena.
Mayo got the loudest cheers in the arena during the two games, and was surrounded all the way to the locker room by fans who were taking selfies.
"I didn't expect one day I could watch Mayo playing in Changsha. I know him as the best high school basketball player in the U.S. His shoots and moves tonight still remind me of his NBA career," 29-year-old Wang Qiming said.
In his eight NBA seasons, Mayo played 547 games for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.
In July 2016, Mayo was dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for 2 years for violating the league's anti-drug program. After that, he traveled around the world, and played in some basketball leagues abroad.
When asked about whether he wanted go back to the NBA in the future, Mayo said "my main focus right now is to bring the championship to Changsha."
"After all these ups and downs, he is very self-disciplined now. His training, diet and relationship with teammates are all good, and he is focusing on playing basketball," said Luo Yongbiao, the general manager of Hunan Yongsheng.
"What we appreciate most is that he is willing to share his skills and thoughts with our young players," Luo added.
Hunan Yongsheng will begin its 2019 NBL season on May 19. Besides Mayo, the club has another two foreign players -- former Los Angeles Lakers guard Jabari Brown and Canadian center Liam McMorrow.