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2017 Spring Practice #6: Clay Helton

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Written by Max Holm and Alexa Palermo

USC got back to work on a warm Saturday morning for their sixth practice of the spring. The Trojans held their first scrimmage in front of a large crowd of fans and former players.

Watch USC head coach Clay Helton's full press conference after Saturday's practice:

Gallien To Step Down

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USC women's tennis head coach Richard Gallien announced today (March 24) that he will end his 22-year tenure at the conclusion of this season.

"It has been a privilege to have coached so many brilliant young women in my 22 fantastic years at this remarkable university," Gallien said. "All but two student-athletes who played for me received their degrees, something of which I am very proud."

"I look forward to coaching our team through the postseason and finishing strong. And in the future, I will always be rooting for all the teams at USC."

Click here for the full story.

Gallien, who began coaching at USC in 1996, is a five-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year. He sports a 385-157 (71.0 percent) record at USC, not including 8 wins and a loss vacated due to NCAA penalty. The Trojans have made the NCAA Tournament each year since Gallien has arrived, including three trips to the semifinals and five to the quarterfinals.

This year, the Women of Troy are 5-7 overall (0-3 in Pac-12 play), with eight regular season matches remaining.

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Play For LA

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33629537625_93f6c8f5c7_k.jpgToday, the Los Angeles City Council honored USC's football, women's soccer and women's water polo teams for their accomplishments last season.

Sam Darnold, flanked by Deontay Burnett, Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Cam Smith, made a speech on behalf of the Rose-Bowl winning football team and received a commemorative memo. Dom Randle spoke on behalf of USC's national champion women's soccer team, while Stephania Haralabidis spoke for national champion women's water polo.

City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Curren Price, both USC alumni, conducted the presentation for the Trojans.

The Kid

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Coming off of an impressive freshman season, USC guard De'Anthony Melton has been invited to the USA Basketball U19 Junior National Team Training Camp this summer.

Melton started 25 of 36 games for the Trojans this year, and averaged 8.3 points. His 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game ranked second on the team.

The youngest player on USC's roster was especially impressive on defense this year, racking up 69 steals -- the third most of any freshman in the nation. He ranked in the Top 20 in rebounds and assists as well.

At the training camp, which takes place in Colorado Springs, Melton will have the chance to compete for a spot on the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup Team. The 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup takes place in Cairo, Egypt from July 1-9, 2017.

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Reedy and Ryan

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usc-mens-swimming-diving-utah-2017-mcgillen-1708.jpgOn Saturday, USC senior Reed Malone will don the Trojan swim cap for the very last time.

The Winnetka, IL native started off his final NCAA Championship run with a bang on Wednesday, helping teammates Dylan Carter, Patrick Mulcare and Santo Condorelli secure a school record in the 800y free relay, earning a fifth place finish and an All-American award.

Malone can now call himself a six-time All-American, five-time Pac-12 champion, and two-time NCAA Champion, with more accolades potentially on the horizon as competition continues this weekend.

But perhaps no honor defines Malone's character better than his election as the only three-time captain in program history.

Malone believes that since arriving at Troy, his trust in his teammates has fostered their trust in him as a leader.

"I believe in other people," he said. "And I value other people's opinions and other people's skills. I think a lot of people get too worked up about doing stuff on their own, but I value the people around me and what they have that I don't."

Malone said that growing up, his family instilled these ideals in him, helping him "accept other people for however they come" and learn things from other people to make himself better.

Malone's brother, Ryan, was hugely influential in those regards. Ryan (pictured, middle) is 24 -- two years and a month older than Reed -- and he has autism. He struggles with verbal and social skills, and has the propensity to get anxious and act out in public.

Though Reed has been in the middle of a few difficult situations with Ryan, he's always made the best of them, and has translated those experiences directly into his time as a team captain at USC. Dealing with Ryan's outbursts taught Reed to "stay calm in pressure situations and just relax," and dealing with Ryan's limited verbal skills forced Reed to learn to read people without them directly expressing their feelings -- two skills that have surely helped him lead his team for the past three years.

IMG_4491.JPG"The more I think about my good qualities, they come from being around Ryan," says Reed.

It can be difficult at times to connect through conversation, but Reed and Ryan have bonded during their time in the pool together. Ryan swam on the Special Olympics team in high school, and still swims competitively from time to time. When Reed visits home, he gets in the pool with Ryan and helps him with his stroke, which motivates him to swim much faster.

"He's not Michael Phelps or anything, but he's not bad," says Reed of his older brother, who's competing in a Special Olympics meet this weekend at the same time as NCAAs.

While the brothers have both been involved in swimming since they were young, Reed says Ryan has never fully understood the level at which he competes, but that he enjoys attending Reed's meets and cheering him on.

Reed recalls a moment in his teenage years when he realized how much swimming could mean for him and Ryan.

"When I was 14, I had an age group state meet and I won a bunch of events -- it was pretty cool. I got all these medals and I put them in my bag. I got home from the meet and my dad had coached Ryan to say, 'Oh, good job, Reedy' -- he calls me Reedy. He heard the medals jingling in my bag, and I took them out, and was like, 'Do you want to put them on?' and he just smiled. So I put them on, and the smile on his face when he had them around his neck -- I'll never, ever forget that. A huge reason why I swim is if I can bring that much joy to someone who's so important to me, just by swimming up and down a pool, it makes it that much better. I enjoy the sport as it is, but if I can make him so happy by being relatively successful ... it's really special."

49 Is Fine

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USC women's water polo extended its NCAA-record win streak to 49 matches yesterday with a 12-3 victory over No. 10 Princeton.

Click here for the full recap!

Freshman Maud Megens tied her career high with five goals on the day. Junior captain Brianna Daboub added two, and seven Trojans founded the back of the net in total.

Megens, who hails from Rotterdam, Netherlands, moved into second place on USC's scoring list this season with 44 goals. Senior Stephania Haralabidis boasts 64.

The top-ranked Trojans take on No. 14 San Jose State at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Hartwick at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow in a double-header at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

2017 Spring Practice #5: Notes

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The Trojans had several distinguished guests at practice, highlighted by Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer.
  • RB Aca'cedric Ware has a foot sprain and is doubtful for Saturday's practice, per head coach Clay Helton.
  • Palmer-Practice.jpgWhile the offense returns QB Sam Darnold and several other core talents, Helton sees "more work to do offensively than maybe defensively" at this point.
  • Among the question marks, both offensive tackle spots are open. Chuma Edoga is a polished veteran, giving him the inside track at one of the openings. The other side is more of an open competition and Helton is "extremely impressed" with Andrew Vorhees, a freshman to watch.
  • The offense also has several opportunities at wide receiver and Velus Jones Jr. is seizing a role. He is not a traditional target like Darreus Rogers or JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he "seems to have created an explosion play each and every day," said Helton.
  • While the defense has a lot of experience, veteran linebacker Cam Smith is looking for a partner inside to replace captain Michael Hutchings. John Houston Jr. is first in line. "John is one of the guys I am really excited about. I liked him a lot last year. He just couldn't really crack into the lineup," said defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast about Houston. "I think he's got a real good skill set. I think he's instinctual. I am really looking forward to seeing his progress."
  • Houston learned a lot from watching Hutchings, and he still taps into his knowledge whenever he sees him. "Mike is still a leader, so I still take notes from him," said Houston. "He tells me different keys each time that I see him. So coming after him is one of the best things that I could do because he has a lot of experience with the defense. He knows it like both sides of his hands, so I feel like having him as my right hand is going to help me out this season."
  • Pendergast has noticed that sophomore inside linebacker candidate Jordan Iosefa picked up some tricks from Hutchings as well. "Jordan gained a lot of valuable experience last year as well. He's a very good communicator. He has a good feel for what we want to do defensively. He had an opportunity to watch Mike for a year, so that was big for him."
  • With Hutchings gone, Iosefa is ready to lean on Smith's brain and precognitive abilities. "He's helped me understand what's going to happen first down, second down, third down," Houston said about Smith. "He helped me understand what Coach Clancy's thinking because he would know what Coach Clancy was thinking. He would kind of expect it, and it's the same thing that goes for me. I kind of expect what Coach Clancy's going to call."
  • Freshman LB Tayler Katoa is trying to work into the mix as well, but he's making a positional change, so he has a lot to learn. "He's a guy that hasn't played a lot of linebacker, but he's a raw athlete," said Pendergast about Katoa. "He's very receptive, takes coaching very well. Those are the kind of guys you like to coach."
  • The Trojans are allowed three live tackling days out of the 15 practices and Saturday's scrimmage will be one of them. The scrimmage is open to the public and will be on Howard Jones Field at 10 a.m.
  • Here is head coach Clay Helton on the legends at practice and much more:


All-Around Great

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Today, the 2016-17 Learfield Directors' Cup released its Division I winter standings, and USC currently sits in fifth place.

The Learfield Directors' Cup, which rewards the top all-around athletic programs in the nation, currently slots the Trojans behind only Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State, with 492.0 total points.

USC was ranked No. 8 in the fall standings after a women's soccer national championship and a Rose Bowl-winning finish to the football season. But the Trojans bolstered a spot in the Top 5 with a 4th place finish in women's indoor track & field, a 9th place finish in women's swimming & diving and a 21st place finish in men's indoor track & field during the winter season.

The Trojans may earn another boost when the men's swimming & diving championships wrap up this weekend.

Last year, USC ranked 17th at the winter check-in point, but made a late surge in the spring to finish No. 4 overall. With three Trojan teams currently ranked No. 1 in the nation (men's golf, women's water polo and women's beach volleyball), it's safe to assume USC could move up the ranks once again.

The next update to the standings will come on April 6.

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Great One

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USC athletic director Lynn Swann, a pro and college football Hall of Famer, is set to collect his latest award, the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's "Great Ones" trophy.

Click here for more.

"The Great Ones Award is our Stanley Cup. Each year we add a new name to it for that individual's contribution to his sport," said Bill McCoy, president of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. "Lynn Swann and Jim Murray were friends for many years. It seems fitting we are honoring both their legacies with this award."

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The Streak

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Tennis fans might know Steve Johnson as the United States' bronze-medal winning doubles player at the Rio Olympics, but the Orange County native made a name for himself at USC long before that.

While at USC, "Stevie" pulled off one of the most incredible accomplishments in the history of college tennis: a 72-match win streak that included two NCAA Singles Championships.

His fortitude helped lift the Trojans to four straight national titles as well (2009-10-11-12).

Check out The Streak, a short film by FloTennis detailing Johnson's legendary accomplishment.