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South Carolina's Downey and Southern California's Mayo SPEAK UP
Devan Downey and O.J. Mayo played against eachother while Downey was at UC and Mayo was in high school
 
Devan Downey and O.J. Mayo played against eachother while Downey was at UC and Mayo was in high school

Nov. 16, 2007

Columbia, SC - With South Carolina and Southern California set to tip-off tomorrow night at the Colonial Center at 7:30 pm, Bryan Powell of gamecocksonline.com (GO) sat down with the duo of Devan Downey (DD - South Carolina) and OJ Mayo (OJ - Southern California) to dish the dirt. Having played in the summer in Cincinnati with great respect for one another (when Downey was at UC and Mayo was in high school), get to know both of them a little better.

GO: How did you meet OJ?

DD: OJ and I went to an NBA player's camp together. We guarded each other and we went at it hard. We just gained a lot of respect for each other. We exchanged numbers, and we've been friends ever since.

GO: OJ said you were the toughest guard he' 's played against. What does that say about the respect he has for you?

DD: It's an honor. He's been playing everybody. He's been playing NBA players and everything and for him to say that it makes me feel kind of special. I can say the same thing about him, too. He gets a lot of hype, and deserves it, too. He's a great player.

GO: How has the transition been from West Virginia to Los Angeles?

OJ: It's been interesting. The weather and how diverse of a city it is.

GO: Have you been able to meet anyone since you've been out in LA?

OJ: You see people often. I've been around a lot of ballplayers like Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, Kobe (Bryant). There are just so many like Maria Sharapova. I've learned they are just normal people.

GO: Has there been anyone that you were in awe of when you met them?

OJ: When I met Jesse Jackson - I was just kind of in awe because I never thought I' 'd see him.

GO: How would your mother describe you in one word?

 

 

OJ: I don' 't know. I honestly don' 't know. I hope she' 'd say I'm laughing.

DD: Hardheaded.

GO: What is the first quote that comes to your mind?

OJ: 'Trust what you do and do what you trust.' Me and my friend Darrell, we used to always say it when we were younger. Just trust what you do and do what you trust.

DD: There' 's something that was in the weight room at Cincinnati that I liked. It says 'great players get up even when they can't'. I have it printed in the room on my door. It's the first thing I look at and think about when I get up at 6 in the morning, and it's hard to get up. It just tells me it's time to get up. Time to go to work. I just look at that. It's kind of emotional.

GO: What do you miss about your childhood?

OJ: I guess just being able to mess up without having everyone find out about it - without it being on the front page of the paper.

DD: I miss my neighborhood. We used to have a whole lot of fun. That' 's kind of the thing I miss about my childhood. I'm kind of the only one that went the college route, so I don't get to see those guys as much.

GO: What is the main fault in your character?

OJ: Sometimes I' 'm just tired and I want to shut down everything. In life in general, you just want to go to your room and lay down without hearing somebody knocking, but it' 's cool for the most part. I just treat people the way I want to be treated.

DD: I'd say my weakness in my character is my character. I feel like I'm kind of urban. If I wear my hat backwards, some people might stereotype me. My thing is don't judge me by that. I' 'm not a person of image - get to know me before you know me. I think the only weakness is my character. That's something that I'm going to try to work on.

GO: Tell me about your past couple of years. Have there been times when you just wanted to push everything aside and get away for a while? What do you do to get away from it?

OJ: I like to go to the show a lot. I like to see movies, go to the mall.

GO: Who is your favorite historical figure?

OJ: Muhammad Ali. He just stood for what he believes and he was a world icon.

DD: I'd have to say Allen Iverson. I'm probably his biggest fan. I read all his bios. He was locked up when he was 17 or 18, and he could've called it quits. He tried to do the right thing. He got in touch with Coach Thompson and got his act together for the most part. He tried to change himself in college. I don't know him personally, but all the stuff I've heard about him says that he's a good guy. We kind of have the same personality. Being so small, you don't get the same kind of respect.

GO: Finish this sentence: " "Happiness is a thing called... ..." "

OJ: Basketball.

DD: Basketball. Just playing the game I love with my family watching. Sometimes you might think that you have problems, but when you sit down and think about it, you really don' 't have any problems. When I'm really happy is when I'm down on the court and I look up and see my mother and my father watching me play the game that I love. I feel like I can do anything when I'm on the court.

GO How much does your family mean to you?

DD: My family means a lot. They've just been so supportive. When I was younger and I'd get in trouble, even though my friends were getting in trouble too, their family would just throw in the towel. 'Let him do what they do'. My family would just tell me 'we're not giving up'. My family was just so supportive, and would tell me that they were not going to let me fail. They would just tell me how much they love me. They mean the world to me. That's why I try to do my best to make them happy. My mom told me that to make her happy isn't going to the NBA and buying her a big house. She said it's getting your education and succeeding in life.

GO: Which is the real USC?

OJ: Looking around here, I would say we are (he's in the Colonial Center). Everything just seems to have a C or say Carolina. All of our stuff has USC on it.

DD: I' 'd have to say that South Carolina is because I go here.

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