Gabe Pruitt certainly deserved it. He was USC’s unquestioned leader in Friday night’s 70-61 Pacific-10 Conference Tournament semifinal victory over Washington State, scoring 26points, including a season-high six3-pointers. But Pruitt shied away. Not because that’s his natural disposition, not because he had nothing to say. On the contrary. After spending the first 11 games of the season feeling like he’d let himself, his team, his coaches and the fans down by allowing himself to become academically ineligible, Pruitt wasn’t ready to proclaim himself fully redeemed after what USC coach Tim Floyd called “his best two games of the season.” “The season’s not over yet,” Pruitt said. “I still have a lot more to do. “It was real hard sitting out. I felt like I let everyone down. And it was all my fault. My doing.” Statistically, it might not look like Pruitt has had the best of seasons. After hitting more 3-pointers than any other Trojan in his first two seasons, he has gone cold this season from beyond the arc, hitting just 34 percent. He walked quickly off the court, only taking a few moments to celebrate. After his turn in the interview room, he all but sprinted back to the locker room. Most other players would have milked the moment, lingered a few extra minutes in front of the cameras, flashed a few more smiles for the evening newscast. But that statistic is a bit misleading. Last season, Pruitt played mostly as a shooting guard, allowing him to set up and set his feet. But he had to switch to point guard this year after the tragic death of point guard Ryan Francis during the offseason. It’s the position Pruitt will likely play as a professional, but it has taken some time to adjust to. Instead of setting up in his favorite spots, he’s setting up Nick Young or Lodrick Stewart. Instead of catching and releasing, he’s bringing the ball up the court. But it’s not completely foreign to Pruitt. He played point guard part of the time in high school. But it has taken some time to reacquaint himself with the role. “I have a lot of guys around me that can score, so it takes the load off me to score like I used to do,” Pruitt said. “I tried to shift and focus on getting it to Taj (Gibson), Nick, Lod, Daniel (Hackett), those other guys who can score. Having those guys around makes my job easier.” Friday, Pruitt put it all together. He made 4 of 5 3-pointers in the first half and both of the 3s he attempted in the second half. He also dished out three assists and had no turnovers. “It starts with defense for him,” Stewart said of Pruitt. “The more aggressive he is on defense, the more aggressive he is on offense. He was getting his feet set and knocking them down, so we had to just keep giving it to him.” A few more games like Friday, and Pruitt might feel right about staying in the spotlight a little longer. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
A $1 million demand by Lindsay Lohan’s former bodyguard for the mistaken use of his photo in a Star magazine article about the actress is “wildly excessive,” the publication’s editor-in-chief said today. Andrae Renard sued the magazine’s parent company, American Media Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. “As soon as Star was notified that we identified the wrong bodyguard in the photo caption …. Star immediately withdrew the article from its Web site and corrected, retracted and apologized for the error,” Editor-in-Chief Candace Trunzo said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsAccording to Renard’s court papers, a photo of him with the actress was used in connection with a July 25 Star article headlined “Lindsay’s Bodyguard Bares All! Her Sick Secret World.” The caption under the photo identified Renard as Lee Weaver, the bodyguard who is the subject of the story, according to the suit filed Friday. Since the story and his photo appeared, colleagues and other celebrity clients have questioned Renard’s credibility and he has been banned from entering “certain elite Hollywood nightclubs,” according to his court papers. Renard also is worried he might lose his current job as a Hollywood nightclub security guard because his boss does not “wish to associate with the negative publicity that this article has generated …,” according to the suit. For more news and observations about crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here.