Special guests

Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, Cal State Northridge coach Bobby Braswell and former Pepperdine coach Jan van Brenda Kolff watched practice at Floyd’s invitation.

“They are guys I value,” Floyd said. “I wanted them to observe and help me in any way they can.”

Floyd added that the guest coaches would probably be out at practice all week.

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Francis closure

Floyd attended some of the trial in Louisiana of D’Anthony Ford, who was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder for shooting former USC basketball player Ryan Francis. Ford faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I went out there because of my love for Paulette (Francis, Ryan’s mother),” Floyd said. “I felt it was important for our university to be represented at the trial. I just wanted to give any level of comfort for what I knew would be a trying time for her.”

Floyd said all the players are aware of the conviction, at that it helps bring some closure to the team.

“I’m very happy for Paulette because I didn’t want her to have to live with the idea of Ryan’s killer being on the streets in the same town she was in on a daily basis,” Floyd said.

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O.J. quotes

“It was fun,” Mayo said of his first official USC basketball practice. “I learned a lot. It was my first college practice, so I was really excited.”

Mayo didn’t have much time to talk after his first practice because he had to do a photo shoot for USA Today along with Taj Gibson, then run to eat before a 6:30 p.m. class. USC is holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon in which he will talk more.

Coach Tim Floyd said the structure of the practice — halfcourt offensive drills — didn’t allow for Mayo to make any of the spectacular plays that made him the top basketball recruit in the nation.

“It was nice to see all our freshmen and they were all just listening,” Floyd said. “The other guys have been practicing five days, so they had a chance to observe and then go out and repeat what (the returning players) were doing. I haven’t had the chance to really even watch them go up and down the floor other than a little street ball to start the practice.”

Keith Wilkinson said that Mayo wasn’t just sitting back and listening in his first practice.

“You can tell he’s a leader and a winner even though we weren’t doing much,” Wilkinson said. “He’s really vocal out there, encouraging guys and telling them where to go and what to do.”

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Practice update

Looks like all the freshmen are practicing except Angelo Johnson, who is still awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse. Walk-on James Dunleavy, son of Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and brother Indiana Pacers player Mike Dunleavy Jr., is participating in his first USC practice. Dunleavy went to Harvard-Westlake High in Studio City. Daniel Hackett is practicing. I’ll find out later if this means Hackett will be making the trip to Mexico.

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Mayo’s first practice

O.J. Mayo and the incoming freshman class are practicing with the team for the first time. The practice is taking place upstairs on the practice courts. The main Galen Center court is fitted for volleyball. The practice appears to be closed to the media, but I’ll see if I can view any of the latter stages. I’ll have notes and quotes from Mayo and the rest of the team at the conclusion, probably around 6 p.m.

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Practice looming …

USC will begin practice prior to the Mexico trip on Wednesday for veterans. O.J. Mayo and the rest of the incoming class won’t be able to participate until fall classes start on Aug. 27. The team is preparing to play four games in Mazatlan, Mexico, two each on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2.

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Basketball in talks with Syracuse

USC football recently agreed to a home-and-home series with Syracuse in 2011 and 2012. The basketball teams are also discussing a series. Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross spent 14 years working for USC, leaving as senior associate athletic director in 2005.

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Pruitt hopes for playing time

For a second round NBA pick, nothing is guaranteed. But Gabe Pruitt looks like a cinch to get a roster spot on the Boston Celtics after the team traded away point guard Sebastian Telfair in the deal to acquire Kevin Garnett.

“It definitely opens up a chance for me to step in and get a lot of playing time,” Pruitt said Sunday before the L.A. Stars All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game. “But there’s nothing set in stone so I’m ready to go in and work to earn a spot.”

Pruitt assured that he hasn’t turned on the Trojans despite this picture making the rounds on the Internet of him wearing a UCLA shirt.

“I was over with a couple of guys at UCLA and decided to put on one of their shirts,” Pruitt said. “It’s all fun and games. I didn’t keep it. I’m still a Trojan.”

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Young feeling at home

Gilbert Arenas is passing out more than advice to new Washington Wizards teammate Nick Young.

Young, the former USC and Cleveland High of Reseda standout, said Sunday before participating in the L.A. Stars All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game at Galen Center that Arenas sold him his six-bedroom home in Northern Virginia.

“Gil passed it down to me, Young said. “Its pretty big, more than I expected. I expected to rent at first, but Gil wouldnt have any of that. Its nice to own my first house.

Youngs parents are still looking for the right place in the Los Angeles area before moving out of the small apartment they have lived in for 27 years.

Arenas, another San Fernando Valley product who went to Grant High in Van Nuys, has taken Young under his wings.

“Having someone like Gil to show me around is helping me out a lot, Young said. “Weve practiced together for the past couple of weeks and hes already shown me like one or two moves that Im going to steal from him, but I cant give them out yet.

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Jefferson cleared

Davon Jefferson, watching from the stands at the L.A. Stars Celebrity All-Star Basketball Game at Galen Center on Sunday night, said he got word Thursday from the NCAA Clearinghouse that he will be eligible to play for USC in the fall.

“It’s a relief,” Jefferson said. “They make you wait forever.”

The former Lynwood High player is USC’s top incoming freshman after O.J. Mayo. He could start for the Trojans at forward. Jefferson has been taking two classes at USC in summer school: Geography and Race, Class and Gender in American Film. Mayo is in the same classes.

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