LEARY: The Todd Mayo Conundrum

Through nearly two seasons, Buzz Williams’ 2011 recruiting class failed to produce quality results. Sophomore point guard Derrick Wilson (1.5 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists per game) backs up Junior Cadougan well enough, but he runs away from shots like they’re poison. Sophomore forward Juan Anderson (3.3 points, 3.4 rebounds per game) starts, but he doesn’t add a whole lot to the team and has never scored in double digits.

The one player in the 2011 class who could change his group’s direction is Todd Mayo.

Mayo came to Marquette simply known as “O.J.’s little brother.” However, his dynamic early-season play helped him step out of his half-brother’s shadow a bit. Though he faded late in the year, his expectations for 2012-13 were high.

During the summer, word got around that Mayo was suspended, and Buzz had sent him home to West Virginia to work out personal issues. When Mayo came back to campus in the fall, however, all seemed resolved.

That was until just three days before the season opener against Ohio State, when Marquette announced Mayo’s indefinite suspension due to academic ineligibility. Mayo missed the first 10 games of the season, debuting against LSU Dec. 22.

In his first few games back, Mayo flashed some of the offensive ability that led him to score eight points per game in 2011-12. He scored in double-figures against North Carolina Central (12), Pittsburgh (10) and Seton Hall (12).

Mysteriously, Mayo hit another setback starting against Providence on Jan. 21. Mayo didn’t play in that game and only logged 17 minutes in the next two against USF and Louisville. Williams wasn’t clear as to his motives for benching Mayo, but most followers of the program assumed disciplinary reasons, given Mayo’s past infractions.

In the second USF game, Mayo showed just how valuable he can be. In the first half, he scored 13 points and made his first five shots. He almost single-handedly shot the Bulls out of the game early, and Marquette recorded its first blowout win in Big East play.

Once this season winds down, the question of whether or not Mayo will transfer is certain to permeate offseason conversations. With a star-studded 2013 recruiting class – especially in the backcourt – coming in, Williams might ask Mayo to take his talents and attitude elsewhere.

I for one hope Mayo stays. Attitude issues aside, I find it hard to ignore his Division I talent. He is a pure scorer, and if Buzz finds a way to keep him on the court consistently, he might help resurrect a dormant offense that struggles to shoot over zones.

Love him or hate him, Marquette needs Todd Mayo’s scoring ability to win down the stretch this season and beyond.

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