In the past two days, the Washington Huskies have watched their top two scorers, Terrence Ross (16.4 points per game) and Tony Wroten (16.0 ppg), leave for the NBA draft.
On Wednesday, the Huskies got a commitment that should help replace some of that scoring.
Tacoma Community College shooting guard and Inglemoor High graduate Mark McLaughlin announced that he has committed to UW.
Washington had been recruiting McLaughlin all season in preparation for both underclassmen leaving, and when they did, McLaughlin jumped at the opportunity. In doing so, he rejected offers from Gonzaga, West Virginia, Hawaii, Boise State and others.
“I feel like it’s a good fit for me,” he said. “They needed someone that can score.”
McLaughlin can certainly do that. He averaged 28.4 points a game this season, which led all junior college players in the nation. He shot 51 percent from the field (294-for-581) and 38 percent from 3-point range (57-for-152). He also made 207 of 248 free throws (83 percent). Besides the scoring, he averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He was named NWAACC Western Region most valuable player, while earning first-team NWAACC all-tournament honors.
But he knows he will have to be even better to thrive in the Pacific-12 Conference.
“I feel like I have to get more efficient offensively,” he said. “It’s not going to be as easy to get shots off and I have to make the ones I get. I also know I need to get in the weight room and get a lot stronger to prepare for the physical play.”
McLaughlin has had a well-traveled college career. Coming out of Inglemoor, McLaughlin committed to Washington State. But he quit basketball at midseason of his senior year in 2008 to focus on his studies and decided to de-commit, signing a letter of intent with Nevada instead.
But when Nevada coach Mark Fox left for Georgia, the Wolfpack’s recruiting class was released from commitments. McLaughlin then signed with Baylor, but he left the school in Waco, Texas, after a few weeks to return home to be close to his son, Jaylen.
He then transferred to Seattle University and played in 17 games, averaging 7.2 points per game for the Redhawks before leaving the team.
After that, McLaughlin found his way to TCC and coach Carl Howell. McLaughlin flourished, helping lead the Titans to an NWAACC championship.
“We are all very happy for Mark, not only is he a great player, he is a great young man,” Howell said. “He will have a major impact next year as he fills a need for (coach) Lorenzo (Romar) on the wing. He had one of the greatest years ever by an NWAACC player. He led us to an NWAACC championship and his unselfishness made our other guys better players. Not often can you say a player who leads the country in scoring is that unselfish.”
It helped that McLaughlin felt comfortable with Howell.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Coach Howell and I feel like I can have that kind of relationship with Coach Romar,” McLaughlin said.
As for his vagabond past, McLaughlin knows their are skeptics.
“The whole experience was very humbling,” he said. “I had to grow up and learn what was important. I have a greater appreciation for the game. I’m a different person.”
And he thinks this is the right situation.
“Obviously, it hasn’t been the straightest path,” he said. “But it’s brought me here. I feel this is the right place for me. I’m just happy to be a Husky. It’s like a dream come true.”