Mayo began capturing the attention of national sports media outlets as a seventh grader. During that year, he was named a starter on the Rose Hill Christian Academy (Ashland, Ky.) varsity team.
As if that weren't impressive on its own, Mayo scored 23.1 points per game that season (per USCTrojans.com).
And thus started his reputation as an elite scorer and the comparisons to LeBron James (via Albert Lin of SI.com).
Mayo went on to have an illustrious high school career, winning both Mr. Basketball of Ohio and Associated Press Division III Player of the Year two times.
His successes weren't limited to the individual kind, though.
He led North College Hill High School to two state championships in Ohio before transferring and leading his hometown Huntington High School team to a West Virginia state championship in 2007.
In fact, he topped off the latter with a bit of showmanship:
After one season playing for the University of Southern California Trojans, Mayo declared for the 2008 NBA draft and was taken third overall.
Five seasons later, he has the opportunity to become a star in Milwaukee.
In order to understand how he can do that, one must understand his strengths and weaknesses.
At 6'4", 210 pounds Mayo has adequate size for an NBA shooting guard. Ideally, another inch or two would be beneficial, but his height hasn't hampered him much to this point.
Clearly, the biggest strength Mayo possesses is his ability to score.
The 15.2 points he's averaged thus far in his career don't scream elite scorer, and there's certainly room for improvement, but he can fill it up with the best of them when hot.
And outside of 2010-11 and 2011-12, he has done so efficiently.
Unlike some superstars who possess that quick first step, Mayo's offensive prowess comes from his ability to knock down mid-range jump shots and hit tough runners.
That might not sound like the best way to go about scoring, but thus far, it's worked pretty well for him as evidenced by a respectable true shooting percentage of 53.6 for his career.
Still, as DraftExpress.com notes, it may be that lack of explosiveness that's kept him from becoming the superstar many expected him to be:
Mayo clearly does not possess the explosiveness that many of the perimeter stars of the game have. When attempting to get to the basket, defenders often stay with him–not allowing him to get all the way to the rim. His lack of a quick first step is evident in the half court, as he often resorts to floaters or pull-up jumpers when he can’t beat his man to the basket. As a result, Mayo is only attempting 4 free throw attempts per game, which is way too low for someone with his skill level and who is shooting 88.5% from the charity stripe. He also has a tendency to shy away from contact by fading away for a tough shot or getting too fancy which contributes to his lack of free throw attempts. He has a very strong upper body, and when he learns to use it when attacking the cup, he’ll draw fouls at a much better rate.
With his first chance to truly become a team's go-to scoring option, Mayo has the ability to learn these things quickly.
If he can do so, he'll become a more complete scorer and provide the Bucks with even more production.
Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Mayo proved that he's more than capable of getting teammates involved as well, averaging 4.4 assists.
The team will look to Brandon Knight to orchestrate the offense and handle most distribution duties, but having a shooting guard that can pass—as opposed to just scoring—is always a benefit. If defenses collapse on him during penetration, he'll be more than capable of kicking it out to shooters.
Will O.J. Mayo finally live up to his star potential in Milwaukee?
And while he won't top the defensive win shares category, Mayo is a solid defender when he feels like exerting the effort. He's not someone who's going to rack up a ton of steals, but the 1.1 he's averaged for his career proves he's a solid on-ball defender.
Truth be told, his skill set is solid.
In fact, it's more solid than his numbers would otherwise suggest.
Continuing to build on the solid season he had a year ago is imperative, but if he can do so, there's no reason why Mayo cannot blossom into a star for the Bucks from a skills standpoint.
Attitude and Personality
While physical attributes and on-court skills far outweigh anything else, a player having the proper mentality is almost as crucial.
Even though Mayo has behaved for the majority of basketball career, he's had his fair share of head-scratching incidents.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, in January 2011, Mayo—then with the Memphis Grizzlies—got into a fight with teammate Tony Allen aboard the team's charter flight. As if that wasn't bad enough, the issue stemmed from a gambling debt:
Mayo owed Allen money from a card game, “Boo-Ray” and sources said Mayo became increasingly belligerent and antagonistic toward Allen when asked to settle the debt. Sources said Allen walked away from Mayo to go the restroom and returned to find Mayo continuing to berate him. Eventually, Mayo inched close to Allen, and sources said Allen hit Mayo.
It's not a secret that NBA players make wagers with one another while traveling, but it's not too often that full-blown fights break out either.
Not long after that incident, Mayo was making headlines for all the wrong reasons again.
In fact, that January wasn't a great month for him.
On January 27, 2011, according to ESPN.com, Mayo was suspended for 10 games due to testing positive for the banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Several days later he claimed an energy drink was to blame (via ESPN.com):
I didn't know it had any bad substances in it, and it caused a 10-game suspension... It's not like I went to a GNC and got some Muscle Armor or ordered some supplement off the Internet or anything. It was just a local gas station that kind of got me hemmed up.
Given the controversy over some energy drinks and their contents, Mayo's reasoning for the positive test isn't far-fetched at all. Still, an elite athlete should take responsibility for his or her body and always know what is being consumed.
In 2010, USC announced that he was ineligible during his lone season at the university due to receiving improper benefits, forcing the school to vacate its 21 wins from that year (via ESPN.com).
Meanwhile, in 2007—while still in high school—Mayo was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, but the charges were ultimately dropped (via Associated Press).
Also, during his senior season at Huntington High School, he was ejected from a game and ultimately suspended three for bumping an official:
Looking at the video, there seems to be a bit of acting on the part of the official, but Mayo clearly puts himself into a lose-lose scenario by confronting him in the first place.
Yes, he was a teenager when several of these incidents occurred, but the fact that he does have a history means his attitude and personality are worth keeping an eye on.
If he can be a good teammate and become a more consistent scorer, Mayo could provide the Bucks with years of valuable play and become their go-to man on the offensive end.
Otherwise he'll just be another solid piece on a roster full of complementary players.