MILWAUKEE (CBSLA.com/AP) — O.J. Mayo’s little brother is welcome to come over to the Bucks’ guard’s new digs whenever he likes, so long it doesn’t interfere with the younger Mayo’s responsibilities at Marquette.
Signing in Milwaukee this offseason came with familial duties, too, for O.J. Mayo.
However, he loves playing big brother. And having his sibling, Todd — a junior guard with the Golden Eagles — added a level of comfort for Mayo as he embarks on his first season with the Bucks following a year with the Mavericks. The season tips off Wednesday with a visit to New York Knicks.
“I can come here, pursue my dream and my job, and happen to be in the same town that (Todd) is in college. I think that’s pretty much icing on the cake,” said the sixth-year veteran said, who turns 26 next week.
Imagine how his mother feels.
“It meant a lot,” the 22-year-old Todd Mayo said recently at Marquette media day. “Sometimes she was out in Dallas watching his game, and probably missed three or four of my games.”
Now the Mayo boys will play home games on the same floor, at the Bradley Center. Marquette’s campus is barely a five-minute drive from the arena.
Signed in the offseason to a three-year, $24 million deal, O.J. Mayo replaces Monta Ellis in the backcourt, part of a roster renovated in part to improve team chemistry.
Coach Larry Drew, who’s also new to the Bucks, likes what he sees so far out of Mayo.
Receptive to criticism. A leader to younger teammates. Improvement each week of a monthlong training camp.
“Particularly with his conditioning. He became more of a presence once you started seeing him get his legs under him,” Drew said Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in suburban Milwaukee. “He’s a lot better defender than what I pegged him out to be.”
Known more for scoring. Mayo has averaged 15.2 points over his first five NBA seasons — just don’t ask him if he considers himself a “go-to” guy. He doesn’t like that label.
“My mindset is to get ‘Ws.’ Whatever I need to do, so if I’m wrestling the bear, help the bear, not me,” Mayo said with a chuckle after a recent practice.
He lives about 15 minutes from downtown, close enough for Todd to come over and crash — with conditions.
“He’s got to take care of his business. If he’s got a 6 or 7 o’clock practice, I don’t think it’s a good idea if he crashes at my house,” the elder Mayo said, “and I don’t want to get up and take him to practice.”
Todd Mayo will be looked upon to fill the void left by star Vander Blue, who left to pursue an NBA career following his junior season.
After averaging 5.3 points in 14 minutes over 23 games, the younger Mayo had surgery on his left knee in late July. Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams pronounced Mayo about “80 to 85 percent” healthy at media day a couple weeks ago.
“If Buzz says I’m 85 percent, that means I’m 65 percent,” the guard joked. “I feel 100 percent, but I’ll just go with what he says.”
Perhaps more importantly to Mayo is that he stayed in town for the summer, an experience that helped him mature.
“Picked up on a lot of relationships with teammates,” he said. “I just felt left out and I didn’t know what I was really missing until I went through it, so I felt like going through this summer really helped.”
He also heard talk during the summer that the Bucks might be interested in signing his brother. He said he felt like he knew O.J. would be coming to Milwaukee before his brother even did.
Now he has a sounding board just minutes away.
“When you want to get away, or someone to talk to,” Todd Mayo said, “you can always go right down the road.”
Mayo came into his own at USC, shooting an average 44.2% from the field through 33 games in the 2007-08 season.
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