LOS ANGELES (AP) -Since Southern California lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, freshman guard O.J. Mayo has been working on his ball-handling skills.
He has also been practicing for a moment he has waited for his entire life - the walk from the green room to the podium during the NBA draft to shake hands with commissioner David Stern.
The 6-foot-5 guard who is projected to be a lottery pick in the June 26 draft spoke to reporters on Thursday for the first time since announcing he would forgo his college eligibility last week.
``All my life I've worked to be an NBA player, that was my ultimate dream so I'm happy I get this opportunity,'' Mayo said. ``I just feel like this year, why pass it up when you've been waiting all your life.''
Mayo recently hired Calvin Andrews of BDA Sports Management, based in Walnut Creek, to represent him. The agency, which was founded by Billy Duffy, also represents Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming and Steve Nash.
Mayo led the Trojans in scoring (20.7), steals (51), 3-pointers (88) and assists (109). He was an All-Pac-10 first-team selection and established the USC freshman single-season record with 684 points and 88 3-pointers. His point total was the second-most ever in a season by a Trojan and his 3-pointers the third most in history.
Led by Mayo, the Trojans tied for third in the Pac-10 at 11-7 and finished 21-12 overall.
Once the season ended, Mayo said he consulted with USC head coach Tim Floyd and his mother, Alisha Mayo before deciding his fate.
His only regret was not being able to lead the Trojans further in the NCAA tournament.
``We feel like we got put of the tournament pretty early and March Madness is an exciting time. ``We really felt like we could do well so for us to get put out early, there's always a feeling that maybe you want to come back and try to go a little further.''
But Mayo said he ultimately decided to turn pro so that he could provide financial security for his family that includes seven siblings.
``That's the most important thing right now for me, to give my brothers and sisters the best living situation possible,'' Mayo said.
Mayo plans on finishing out the semester at USC and working out on campus before the draft to help prepare for his rookie season.
Mayo said that Floyd, who was a former coach of the Chicago Bulls and the New Orleans Hornets simply told him that playing in the NBA is ``a different world,'' and acknowledged that he will have to adjust to a grueling 82-game season.
Mayo enjoyed his one season at USC and thought the time helped him mature on and off the court.
``I definitely got the most out of it,'' Mayo said. ``It taught me to grow up and make the right decisions.''
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