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Mayo, Gibson are noncommittal on returning

Times Staff Writer

OMAHA -- O.J. Mayo wouldn’t say whether he would return for a second season of college basketball following the final game of his freshman year, but the USC guard was emphatic about one thing: The Trojans need more quality big men.

“We could definitely use another inside player other than Taj [Gibson], who is a great player but really needs some help,” Mayo said after sixth-seeded USC lost to 11th-seeded Kansas State, 80-67, in a Midwest Regional first-round game Thursday night at the Qwest Center.

The Wildcats outrebounded the Trojans, 44-27, and grabbed more offensive rebounds in the first half (12) than USC had on both ends of the court (11).

Mayo said the Trojans could get the help they need from DeMar DeRozan, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Compton High who will join the Trojans next season.

Asked whether he would consider coming back to play alongside the fellow McDonald’s All-American, Mayo said, “DeMar’s a good player. . . . I’ll look at that.”

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Mayo said there was no timetable for when he would make a decision about whether to return or make himself available for the NBA draft. Gibson also declined to address his status for next season.

“Right now I just want to get back to my team and just worry about this whole process of taking this early loss and get back to school,” said Gibson, a sophomore who had nine rebounds.

Freshman forward Davon Jefferson appeared to be leaning toward returning, at least publicly. Asked if he had a decision to make, Jefferson said, “Not really. Finish school.”

Rebounding had been a strength late in the season for the Trojans. After being outrebounded in 11 of their first 12 Pacific 10 Conference games, USC outrebounded eight consecutive opponents.

And then came Thursday.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com


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