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The Sports Report: And the winner is... yawn

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JT Daniels
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

USC football

The USC Trojans finally chose their quarterback for the upcoming season, and it really was a competition with all the suspense of that episode of “Columbo” you’ve seen 50 times. The winner: JT Daniels.

Daniels, a sophomore, will start the season opener against Fresno State on Aug. 31, reprising the role he played all of last season.

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We came into the process and said it’s not going to be about age or who’s been on the field,” coach Clay Helton said. “It’s going to be about how people play and how people compete on a day-to-day basis and execute the offense and how they do it consistently. JT did that.”

Behind Daniels on the depth chart will be freshman Kedon Slovis, who outperformed and surpassed more proven veterans in redshirt junior Matt Fink and redshirt sophomore Jack Sears.

“We were very surprised with Kedon coming out of the spring, very impressed,” Helton said. “We went through this camp and another 15 practices to see if it wasn’t just spring. He did it again.”

Lakers

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Looking for a suitable replacement for DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers will host workouts with veteran big men Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights this week.

Noah, 34, played in 42 games for the Memphis Grizzlies last season and averaged 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 52% from the field.

Howard, 33, played in only nine games while with the Washington Wizards. He had surgery Nov. 29 to repair a disc in his lower back and sat out the rest of the season.

Speights, 32, last played in the NBA during the 2017-18 season with the Orlando Magic. That season he played in 52 games and averaged 7.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

Sports poll

So, I want to hear from you. Do you think the Lakers should reunite with Dwight Howard? Click here to vote in our poll or email me your answer.

Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three, for his 166th victory in the Dodgers 16-3 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays.

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The 166th victory of Kershaw’s career moved him ahead of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and into fifth place on the Dodgers’ all-time wins list behind Don Sutton (233), Don Drysdale (209), Dazzy Vance (190) and Brickyard Kennedy (181).

More Dodgers reading:

Kenley Jansen says it’s ‘going to be weird’ after he and Dodgers decided on change

Angels

Andrew Heaney struck out a career-high 14 batters as the Angels defeated the Texas Rangers, 5-1, in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday. The Angels didn’t fare as well in the second game, losing 3-2 in 11 innings.

“I was able to keep all my pitches on line and through the strike zone,” said Heaney, who joined Dan Haren (May 24, 2012) and Frank Tanana (June 21, 1975) as the only Angels pitchers to strike out at least 14 batters without a walk. “I tried to just get ahead early. Everyone knows it’s hot. I was trying to get as deep into the game as I can, trying to save the bullpen.”

Clippers

The Clippers and Tyronn Lue have an agreement in place to make him an assistant on Doc Rivers’ coaching staff. The agreement comes three months after Lue, who had worked as a Clippers assistant under Rivers before winning the 2016 NBA championship in Cleveland as the Cavaliers’ head coach, came close to becoming head coach of the Lakers. Disagreements over contract terms eventually broke down talks between Lue and the team. The Lakers hired Frank Vogel.

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Sparks

Candace Parker had 20 points and 10 rebounds for her third double-double, Chelsea Gray added 17 points, and the Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx 81-71.

The Sparks used a 23-4 second-quarter spurt to take a 49-32 lead at the break and opened the second half on a 17-4 run for a 30-point advantage.

The Sparks scored just six points through the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter as Minnesota pulled to 74-67 on Lexie Brown’s fourth three-pointer of the game. But Parker answered with a three and the Lynx did not get closer than eight points from there.

High school football

Times high school sports columnist Eric Sondheimer is counting down to the season by picking the top players at each position. Today, he moves on to linebacker. Take it away, Eric.

Defensive back Mason White, Birmingham

In the fall of 2016 when Mason White arrived as a freshman at Lake Balboa Birmingham High, coach Jim Rose was shocked to learn White was 13 years old in an era of 14-, 15- and 16-year-old freshmen. You can’t play varsity football until you’re 14, so White played on the freshman-sophomore team that year waiting patiently until he turned 14 on Nov. 11.

He was expecting to make his varsity debut in a playoff game against San Pedro. But his birthday fell on Veterans Day. School would be closed and the game played the night before.

“I remember all the players were laughing and surprised that I couldn’t play,” White said. His coach sought a waiver from the City Section. The game was on a Thursday night and at midnight, White would turn 14. Why not let him play?

The waiver was rejected. White traveled with the team and stood on the sideline unable to help his teammates in a 49-0 loss. He hasn’t come off the football field since, starting as a 14-year-old sophomore and 15-year-old junior at receiver and cornerback.

College recruiters who come by the school still can’t believe his age.

“There’s no regrets,” White said. “It’s cool. Everything is fine.”

Top defensive backs

Players, School | Ht. | Wt. | Yr. | Comment

Jaylin Davies, Mater Dei | 6-0 | 165 | Jr. | Leads best secondary in SoCal

Makell Esteen, Lawndale | 6-2 | 178 | Sr. | Washington commit has 19 interceptions in three years

John Humphrey, Muir | 6-2 | 175 | Sr. | Committed to UCLA

Brandon Jones, Narbonne | 5-10 | 175 | Sr. | Stanford commit

Jake Newman, St. John Bosco | 6-1 | 200 | Sr. | UCLA commit is key tackler in secondary

Clark Phillips, La Habra | 5-11 | 178 | Sr. | Ohio State commit always makes impact

RJ Regan, Orange Lutheran | 6- | 175 | Jr. | Has become a national recruit

Semaj Verner, Mayfair | 6-3 | 190 | Sr. | Ready for big season

Mason White, Birmingham | 6-1 | 165 | Sr. | Set for best season yet

Ceyair Wright, Loyola | 6-0 | 165 | Jr. | Ran a 10.89 100 meters during track season

Odds and ends

College football 2019: Can Jim Harbaugh and Michigan finally beat Ohio State?.... Two ex-MLB players accused in Dominican Republic drug-trafficking investigation.... UCLA receives commitment from Daishen Nix, nation’s top point guard prospect.... The Chargers released long snapper Mike Windt.... Column: Kawhi Leonard’s biggest impact won’t be on the basketball court.

Today’s local major sports schedule

All times Pacific

Toronto at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, AM 570

Angels at Texas, 4 p.m., FSW, 830 AM

Born on this date

1913: High jumper Cornelius Johnson (d. 1946)

1923: Sportscaster Chris Schenkel (d. 2005)

1924: Sportscaster Jack Buck (d. 2002)

1936: NBA player Wilt Chamberlain (d. 1999)

1954: Two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin

1959: NFL player Jim McMahon

1966: Former Dodger John Wetteland

1973: Former Dodger Ismael Valdez

1986: Sprinter Usain Bolt

And finally

Wilt Chamberlain‘s 100-point game. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me by clicking here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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