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Dukes to Transfer

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC men's basketball sophomore Kahlil Dukes announced on Thursday that he will transfer following the 2014-15 school year. The guard averaged 2.1 points per game in 20 games this season, including a career-high 18 points against Arizona State on February 22. His freshman year he averaged 2.7 points per game and led the team with a .355 average from the three-point line.

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Williams' Whirwind

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

With just over a month until the 2015 NFL Draft, excitement continues to build around former USC DL Leonard Williams. The young talent, presumed to be a top five pick, is what the NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah describes as "the definition of game-changer". Possessing an impressive array of raw physical talents at just 20 years old, the 'Big Cat' has NFL coaches and scouts salivating over his potential for years to come.

Ever since Williams made his NFL announcement on December 29, his days have been a whirlwind of intense training, interviews with teams and a frenzy of cameras and coverage everywhere he's gone. He shined on the field at USC Pro Day, and immediately afterwards hosted round after round of media interviews like a veteran. Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit caught up with the defensive lineman that afternoon to watch film and get a sense of William's football IQ, a quality he soon came to realize might be even more impressive than his athleticism. 

Williams has been described by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. as "the best player available" and by ESPN's Todd McShay as "the most dominant and complete player in this class, at any position". In each of their most recent mock drafts, Jeremiah, Kiper and McShay all project Williams being selected second overall to the Tennessee Titans.

In the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, Williams will be featured in NFL Network's draft series "Game Changers" as well as an upcoming episode of ESPN's "Sports Science". The 2015 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago from April 30 to May 2, with round one beginning at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN and the NFL Network.

Here is the full video of Williams breaking down game film with Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit...

Mike Williams Gets a Whistle

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Former USC wide receiver Mike Williams has been named the head football coach for Locke Charter High School in Los Angeles according to the Los Angeles Times. After a successful six-year career in the NFL, Williams will now work to train up the next generation of phenomenal football talent.

Williams was named a Freshman All-American at USC after the 2003 season in which he had 81 receptions for 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns, all of which were school and conference freshman records. His second and final year at USC he led the Trojans in receiving yards and touchdowns while finishing as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and receiving first team All-American honors. After sitting out a year from football in lieu of a court ruling that declared him ineligible for the 2004 NFL Draft, Williams was selected 10th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

The wide receiver finished his NFL career with his former USC coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks in 2010-2011. With a strong recommendation from Carroll, Williams will now go to work leading the Locke program which finished with a record of 7-8 in 2014.

mwilliams.0414.jpg(Photo credit: Orange County Register)

USC, Haden React to Release of McNair Documents

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USC and athletic director Pat Haden reacted today to the documents released from the Todd McNair v. NCAA lawsuit.

Statement from the University of Southern California

March 25, 2015

After an initial review of this first set of documents unsealed by the court in the McNair v. NCAA lawsuit, it is evident that the content confirms bias against McNair and USC by and on behalf of the NCAA and its Committee on Infractions. We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process.  USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve. 

It seems likely that there are additional documents that will come to light.  Once USC has had the opportunity to review all of the documents unsealed by the court, we will determine what further action is appropriate. 

Statement from USC athletic director Pat Haden

March 25, 2015

"These recent documents confirm what we've believed all along, that we were treated unfairly in this investigation and its penalties.  

 "I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA's own institutional controls.

 "It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn't appear to follow its own rules."

Click the links to read more from the LA Times and CBSSports.com.

Photo Gallery: Trojan Bombers

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No. 8 USC baseball has already cracked 15 home runs this season, which nearly doubles last year's total of 8. The Trojans used the long ball again last night to defeat Pepperdine 5-2 behind Jeremy Martinez's first round-tripper of the season.

Click here for the recap.

Here are the John McGillen photos as the Trojans pick up win No. 20 to only five losses:


Spring Rallies

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Come hang out with head coach Steve Sarkisian, linebacker Su'a Cravens and the Trojans this Sunday as they rally the USC crowds at the Hermosa Pier and the Americana at Brand in Glendale. The coach and his players will be joined by the Trojan Marching Band and the Song Girls.

Click here for more.

Fans in attendance can go home with autographs and the chance to win a signed chrome helmet.

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Hungry for More

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

It's been a season of firsts for the USC men's swimming and diving team. The Trojans won their first conference championship since 1979. Senior Cristian Quintero became the first Pac-12 swimmer ever to sweep the 100y, 200y and 500y free. And now, the team is looking to clinch its first top three NCAA finish since 1990.

For a complete USC men's swimming NCAA Championships preview, click here.

The 2015 NCAA Championships begin in Iowa City on Thursday, and USC is dead set on further raising the bar on its already stellar season. Thirteen swimmers and four divers will represent the Trojans at the meet where they will need to put forth the same phenomenal effort shown in the Pac-12 Championships in order to succeed on an even bigger stage.

Quintero, the defending NCAA champion in the 500y free, will lead USC in Iowa as the top seed in the 200y free, second seed in the 500y free and fourth seed in the 100y free. The All-American will also participate in several of the Trojans' relay teams which have been given high seeds as well.

Team-Swimming-15.jpg(Photo by Steven Stumph)

Photo Gallery: Sand Volley Solidifies No. 1

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Right before its match with defending national champion Pepperdine, USC women's sand volleyball was named the nation's top team in the new AVCA poll. The Women of Troy then backed up their No. 1 ranking by defeating the Waves 3-2 in an afternoon thriller at Merle Norman Stadium.

Click here for the recap with video highlights.

The Trojans remain undefeated at 7-0 on the campaign with wins over No. 2 Hawaii, No. 3 Pepperdine and No. 4 Florida State. They host CSU Bakersfield (3 p.m.) and Saint Mary's (4:30 p.m.) on Thursday.

Here are the John McGillen photos from USC's Tuesday afternoon win over Pepperdine:


Bigger and Better

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USC men's basketball is getting bigger and better in 2015 with the additions of 6-foot-10 prep stars Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright, who were both named CIF Players of the Year. Metu is the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year, while Boatwright earned CIF Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year.

Metu is also a John R. Wooden Award winner for his remarkable senior season during which he averaged a double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds), leading Lawndale High to the CIF-SS Division 2AA final where they lost in double-overtime to Canyon of Anaheim. In that game, Metu scored 24 points, had 16 rebounds and blocked five shots.

Despite a similar stature, Boatwright has a completely different skill-set than Metu. The sweet shooting big man led Village Christian High to the Southern Section 1AA Championship by scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a 79-61 win over top-seeded Great Oak. Earlier this season, he scored a school-record 50 points and made eight three-pointers in a win over Saugus.


2015 Spring Practice #7: Notes

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The Trojans responded well to spring break as the grind begins again.
  • USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was in great spirits after a "competitive" practice. "I was impressed with these guys," said Sarkisian. "This group of guys has really responded to the things that we're asking of them from an accountability standpoint. It showed today. They came ready to go."
  • USC_Football_Spring_2015_030315_MCG7373.jpgSarkisian pointed out WR Steven Mitchell as a practice stand out today. He is starting to make the tough catches in traffic to go along with his obvious burst and quickness in the open field.
  • The head coach also loves the toughness that RB Justin Davis and S John Plattenburg are bringing on either side of the ball.
  • At the quarterback spot, Cody Kessler is being pushed to improve two aspects of his game, anticipation and mobility. "He vastly improved last season. I want to see him continue to go to another level, and to play even faster," said Sarkisian about his starting quarterback anticipating throws. Kessler is also working directly with head strength coach Ivan Lewis on perfecting his body, so he can pick up key first downs with his feet. 
  • As for Kessler's backup, Max Browne is starting to look like a more than worthy heir apparent. "This is the most comfortable I've been at spring ball," said the redshirt sophomore. "This is my third spring, I think it's huge not having to learn a whole offense being under Sark for two years. Seven practices in and so far, so good."
  • In front of Kessler and Browne, the offensive line continues to develop thanks to tremendous depth, which is leading to competition at every spot. "Every day is an evaluation. Every day is an interview," said new offensive line coach Bob Connelly (pictured).
  • For the most part, To'a Lobendahn has filled the spot at left tackle vacated by Chad Wheeler, who continues to rehab from last season's knee injury. When Wheeler comes back, Lobendahn could be on the move because he is "very, very versatile," said Connelly, comparing him to center Max Tuerk, who has started at several spots along the line. Lobendahn has already started for USC at guard and tackle, and he is the emergency center if something happens to Tuerk.
  • Offensive guard Damien Mama is focused this spring on reaching his goal weight of 350 pounds. He arrived at USC at 397 pounds, but he's already shed 38 pounds. The coaches want to "lean him up a little bit and put on proper weight" to improve his quickness, stamina and health, said Connelly.
  • Even at 350, Mama is a big man with immense talent. "He's a special kid," said Connelly. "He's a big dancing bear right now. I expect big things from him."
  • While the Trojans still struggle for depth at some positions, the offensive line room is overflowing with blue chippers. "One thing I always like to do is compete," Mama shares the mindset of most, if not all, of the Trojans. "Having such great guys behind me always reminds me that my spot could be taken and that pushes me to be better."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice press conference...