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DeRozan may look beyond Trojans

Top basketball recruit might change choice, family members say, if NCAA probe of Mayo benefits case results in quick penalties.

May 14, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

USC's top basketball recruit might change his college choice if the Trojans face severe sanctions by the NCAA over illegal extra benefits allegedly received by O.J. Mayo.

DeMar DeRozan, one of the nation's most highly sought high school players, signed with USC in November, but his father and older half-brother said Tuesday he might consider other schools if the Trojans sustain a quick and heavy penalty.

"This is a good wake-up call," Jermaine DeRozan, DeMar's half-brother, said. "I'm just hoping SC doesn't get put on probation [If it does], I would get . . . out of there."

Recruits who sign letters of intent are required to gain a release from that school to be eligible immediately without sitting out a season.

The NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference are investigating Mayo because of allegations that he received tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from Rodney Guillory, a Los Angeles events promoter said to be acting as a representative of a sports agency.

Guillory reportedly received about $200,000 in cash plus a $50,000 sports utility vehicle from Bill Duffy Associates, funneling about $30,000 to Mayo, who recently announced BDA vice president Calvin Andrews would be his agent as a pro.

If the allegations are proved true, Mayo could be declared retroactively ineligible. And if the NCAA is convinced USC took part or knew about any violations, the athletic program could be punished by losing scholarships or being banned from postseason play.

"If they can't make the tournament next year, that's what we're going to college for," Jermaine DeRozan said. "If you do your one year, you at least have to shine and get to the tournament with the intentions of winning it or get to the Elite Eight."

Mayo and Bill Duffy Associates have denied any wrongdoing. USC says it is cooperating with the NCAA and that circumstances surrounding the player from Huntington, W.Va., were thoroughly examined before Mayo enrolled.

DeRozan's father, Frank, said DeMar woke him up Sunday after the accusations, made by former Mayo confidant and Guillory associate Louis Johnson, became public when broadcast on the ESPN show, "Outside the Lines."

"He brought it to my attention and said, 'Man, that's messed up,' " Frank DeRozan said.

Compton High Coach Tony Thomas said he recently had been contacted by assistant coaches from two of the Final Four teams -- which were UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas and Memphis -- inquiring about DeRozan's availability.

"They wanted to make sure if anything happened, don't forget about them," Thomas said.

DeMar, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, is a McDonald's All-American who averaged 30.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.0 steals as a senior. As to what his son's college alternatives might be, Frank DeRozan said, "His main thing is, he wants to go [to USC] and help build the basketball program, but we can't do that with a cloud hanging over the school's head.

"We're just trying to see how things play out. He doesn't want to leave home because his mother is still sick" -- she suffers from lupus -- "and isn't getting any better."

Jermaine DeRozan said the allegations surrounding Mayo have served as a cautionary tale for his brother. "It's good that it happened before it happened to us and the warning signs are out there," he said. He added the allegations have left his brother "scared" and questioning the motivations of those trying to get close to him.

"With this stuff with O.J., our circle is getting a little tighter," Jermaine said.

Frank DeRozan said Guillory once attempted to recruit DeMar to play for his Amateur Athletic Union team, and when his advances were rebuffed, Guillory told other AAU coaches that DeMar was 15 years old when in fact he was 13.

The family then had to go to some lengths to straighten out the discrepancy.

"He was real mad because DeMar wouldn't play on his team," Frank DeRozan said of Guillory. "He went out and lied to a couple of other AAU coaches and said DeMar was older than he was. I said [to Guillory], 'You can't say nothing else to me.' "

Guillory could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the source of the allegations against Guillory and Mayo told The Times via e-mail Tuesday he would not comment on the situation for now, referring all inquiries to his Los Angeles attorney.

Louis Johnson wrote, "When the appropriate time comes, I will address a lot of the issues that my revelations have recently uncovered."

Times correspondent Victoria Sun contributed to this report.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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