High School Sports

More than play callers: Bellarmine’s Malachi Flynn, Wilson’s David Jenkins Jr., Peninsula’s JaQuori McLaughlin also playmakers

Bellarmine Prep guard Malachi Flynn, left, Peninsula guard JaQuori McLaughlin, center, and Wilson guard David Jenkins Jr., right, are three players to watch this season.
Bellarmine Prep guard Malachi Flynn, left, Peninsula guard JaQuori McLaughlin, center, and Wilson guard David Jenkins Jr., right, are three players to watch this season. lwong@thenewstribune.com

These aren’t your walk-up-the-court, call-the-play and pass-it point guards.

Bellarmine Prep’s Malachi Flynn, Wilson’s David Jenkins Jr. and Peninsula’s JaQuori McLaughlin are three of the best players not only in the South Sound, but the state because they have embraced the evolution of the floor general.

They aren’t just play callers. They’re playmakers. All can either score 30 points, set up their teammates, or both any given game.

“I want my point guard to organize the show,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “I also want him to be a lock-down defender and establish where we pressure the ball. That’s something my point guard needs to do.

“If I can get one who can also put up 25 or 30 points, I’ll take it. I’m blessed right now with a player who is going to give me all of that.”

Flynn opened the season with 43 points against Lincoln, Jenkins scored 34 against Mount Tahoma in Wilson’s second game and McLaughlin had 33 against Sumner in Peninsula’s second game.

They are the South Sound’s version of Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook – point guards who double as elite scorers.

FLYNN BY WAY OF CURRY

Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar compares his point guard to the one playing for the Golden State Warriors.

“The flow of (Flynn’s) game and how it is for him, the way he shoots the ball, the way he carries himself – it’s like Steph Curry,” Salazar said. “That’s really high praise. Malachi is Malachi and Steph Curry is Steph Curry, but it’s a fun comparison.”

Flynn, a University of the Pacific commit, enjoyed the comparison. That’s his favorite player.

“Must mean I’m doing something right,” Flynn chuckled. “I do think I play like him a little bit. I shoot a lot of 3s, and he shoots a lot of 3s and still get his teammates involved. And he can get to the hole and I feel like I can do all those things, too.”

Flynn said his two older brothers helped hone his smooth pullup jump shot. He’s the youngest of seven, and you can’t catch and shoot against your older brothers one on one — especially not his. He had to be able to create his shot.

But where Flynn, who averaged almost 24 points per game last season, has matured is his knowledge of when to call his own number and when to get his teammates involved.

“He understands that and is wise in that way,” Salazar said. “At the same time, he’s a big-time competitor and he’s also very confident.

“You can make an argument that he could come down the floor and get his own shot almost every time. Is that what’s best for the team? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s a work in progress.”

JENKINS’ NEW ROLE

Jenkins is trying to prove he’s more than a scorer.

He’s a playmaker, too.

“He’s not a shooter, he’s not a slasher — he’s a scorer,” Alwert said. “He just scores the ball. And with his handles and how much he’s worked at that, he just brings the best of both worlds.”

Jenkins transitioned from shooting guard to point guard this season, even if it was out of necessity on a point guard-depleted Wilson roster.

Jenkins, who last year averaged 22 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in leading the Rams to the regional round of the 3A state tournament, also said that college coaches wanted to see him show he can be a combination guard.

“They see me score the ball, but they want to know if I can come in and be the lead guard,” Jenkins said. “I don’t necessarily need to be a true point guard, but I need to be a playmaker.”

Though teammates have transferred in and out of the Tacoma program, Jenkins has started all four of his years.

He knows the offense better now than even his coach, Alwert deadpanned.

“I know there were opportunities to go somewhere else, but to me it’s about staying in my hometown,” Jenkins said, though he added that he’s “Louisiana-made” because he briefly lived there and has family who lives there.

“And it’s about doing what I can for my hometown, like (Isaiah Thomas) and Avery Bradley. It’s been my dream if I could be just like them.”

MCLAUGHLIN’S BIG DREAM

Peninsula’s point guard lives in a two-bedroom home and shares a room with bunk beds with his two younger brothers.

McLaughlin’s family isn’t wealthy, but found a way to support his dream. The 6-foot-4 senior with a 40-inch vertical is now considered one of the top guards in the nation and signed a letter of intent to play at Oregon State University.

“My dad ingrained in me from a young age of playing smart, unselfish and getting my teammates involved,” said McLaughlin, easily the tallest of his immediate family members.

He averaged 23 points, five rebounds, five assists per game last season and set numerous school records at a program that’s only participated in the state tournament twice in school history.

McLaughlin has been an all-3A SPSL player since his freshman year.

“Growing up in a small town, people hate on me for being over here,” McLaughlin said. “So I put that chip on my shoulder that I wanted to be better than everyone over there (in Tacoma). But now it’s not just about being better than the people in Tacoma or Seattle — it’s about being better than the rest of the players in the country.”

He has gradually graduated from scorer to distributor. Peninsula went from four wins in 2012 to 33 wins combined over the past two seasons.

“Freshman and sophomore year that was hard for me because I felt like I could get my shot whenever I wanted,” McLaughlin said. “But junior and senior year I was like, ‘I got to get my teammates involved earlier so they can touch the ball and get warmed up and into the game.’ And then I can turn it on whenever I want to.”

Seahawks coach Jake Jackson said McLaughlin has turned into an every-possession, high-IQ player since the skinny freshman that entered Peninsula’s halls in 2012.

And much like Flynn and Jenkins, he’s a point guard who can do a lot more than call the plays.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677, @tjcotterill

TNT PRESEASON ALL-STATE TEAMS

BOYS BASKETBALL

FIRST TEAM

Guard Isiah Brown, Lakeside of Seattle, 6-1, sr.: Northwestern commit scored at least 30 points 12 times last season, averaging 28.3 points per game.

Guard David Jenkins Jr., Wilson, 6-1, jr.: Becoming complete player. Expect him top averages of 22 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assist per game from last season.

Guard JaQuori McLaughlin, Peninsula, 6-4, sr.: Lanky point guard and Oregon State signee did it all last year, averaging 23 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Guard Jaylen Nowell, Garfield, 6-5, jr.: Four-star recruit led two-time defending champs in scoring last year at 23.3 points per game.

Forward Keith Smith, Rainier Beach, 6-6, sr.: Torn meniscus cut last season short, but before Oregon commit was averaging 18.5 points, 11 rebounds on team that had Dejounte Murray.

SECOND TEAM

Guard — Steven Beo, Richland, 6-3, sr.

Guard Sam Cunliffe, Rainier Beach, 6-6, sr.

Guard — Daejon Davis, Garfield, 6-3, jr.

Forward — Alphonso Anderson, Garfield, 6-6, sr.

Forward — Jalen McDaniels, Federal Way, 6-9, sr.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

FIRST TEAM

Forward — Lydia Giomi, West Seattle, 6-7, sr.: You read that height correctly. Oregon signee and double-double machine would be one of the tallest in WNBA, let alone the Metro League.

Guard — Jessie Loera, Moses Lake, 5-7, sr.: Signed letter of intent to Gonzaga. Averaged 16 points, five assists, five rebounds, five steals per game last year.

Forward — Mikayla Pivec, Lynnwood, 5-10, sr.: Oregon State commit and reigning Gatorade state player of the year averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds for 3A state champs.

Guard — Bria Rice, Todd Beamer, sr.: Colorado signee and reigning TNT All-Area player of the year doesn’t care about points per game as much as getting team involved.

Guard — Anna Wilson, Bellevue, 5-8, sr.: Recognize the last name? Big bro is Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Stanford commit transferred from Collegiate School (Virginia).

SECOND TEAM

Guard — Shelby Cansler, Bellevue, 6-1, sr.

Guard — Quinessa Caylao-Do, Bellevue, 5-9, sr.

Forward — Tamia Braggs, Lincoln, 6-1, sr.

Forward — Jadyn Bush, Bishop Blanchet, 5-11, jr.

Forward — Kiki Knox, Wilson, 5-10, sr.

RANKINGS

BOYS BASKETBALL

CLASS 4A

1. Federal Way (5-0)

2. Union (2-0)

3. Gonzaga Prep (3-0)

4. Curtis (3-0)

5. Issaquah (3-0)

6. Lewis and Clark (2-1)

7. Richland (2-1)

8. Moses Lake (5-1)

9. Cascade of Everett (6-0)

10. Bellarmine Prep (2-2)

CLASS 3A

1. Garfield (3-0)

2. Rainier Beach (4-0)

3. Wilson (3-0)

4. Bellevue (2-0)

5. Peninsula (3-0)

6. Lincoln (3-0)

7. Shadle Park (4-1)

8. Seattle Prep (2-1)

9. Auburn Mountainview (4-0)

10. Kamiakin (4-0).

CLASS 2A

1. Clarkston (5-0)

2. Squalicum (5-0)

3. Pullman (4-0)

4. Wapato (3-0)

5. Lynden (3-0)

6. River Ridge (3-1)

7. Anacortes (3-2)

8. Mark Morris (3-0)

9. Selah (3-1)

10. White River (4-1).

CLASS 1A

1. Zillah (2-0)

2. King’s (1-1)

3. Vashon Island (5-0)

4. Lynden Christian (4-0)

5. Kings Way Christian (2-0)

6. Mount Baker (2-1)

7. Freeman (3-1)

8. Castle Rock (3-0)

9. Montesano (3-0)

10. Cascade Christian (2-2)

CLASS 2B

1. Brewster (4-0)

2. Life Christian (7-0)

3. Morton/White Pass (4-0)

4. Northwest Christian of Colbert (2-1)

5. Liberty of Spangle (5-0)

6. Ocosta (4-0)

7. Mabton (3-1)

8. Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (2-2)

9. Mossyrock (2-1)

10. Napavine (1-0).

CLASS 1B

1. Almira/Coulee-Hartline (1-0)

2. Seattle Lutheran (3-0)

3. Garfield-Palouse (5-0)

4. Neah Bay (0-0)

5. Lummi (2-1)

GIRLS BASKETBALL

CLASS 4A

1. Central Valley (4-0)

2. Todd Beamer (2-1)

3. Bothell (5-0)

4. Moses Lake (6-0)

5. Lewis and Clark (3-1)

6. Kentridge (4-0)

7. Bellarmine Prep (2-1)

8. Skyview (3-0)

9. Sunnyside (5-0)

10. Inglemoor (4-1)

CLASS 3A

1. Bellevue (4-0)

2. Lynnwood (5-0)

3. Arlington (5-0)

4. Wilson (5-0)

5. Bishop Blanchet (3-0)

6. West Seattle (5-0)

7. Lakeside of Seattle (4-0)

8. Auburn Riverside (6-0)

9. Glacier Peak (5-0)

10. Lincoln (3-0)

CLASS 2A

1. East Valley of Spokane (4-1)

2. Burlington-Edison (5-0)

3. Ellensburg (4-1)

4. W.F. West (3-0)

5. Anacortes (3-2)

6. White River (3-1)

7. Lynden (3-1)

8. Wapato (4-0)

9. Port Angeles (5-0)

10. East Valley of Yakima (4-1)

CLASS 1A

1. Cashmere (3-2)

2. King’s (3-1)

3. Kalama (2-1)

4. Lynden Christian (4-0)

5. La Salle (3-0)

6. Mount Baker (6-0)

7. Montesano (4-0)

8. Freeman (2-1)

9. Chelan (2-1)

10. Elma (4-0)

CLASS 2B

1. Okanogan (1-0)

2. Toutle Lake (5-0)

3. Wahkiakum (4-0)

4. Mabton (4-0)

5. Morton/White Pass (4-0)

6. Napavine (2-1)

7. Raymond (4-1)

8. Colfax (3-1)

9. LaConner (3-2)

10. White Swan (2-1)

CLASS 1B

1. Colton (4-0)

2. Republic (5-0)

3. Sunnyside Christian (2-0)

4. Grace Academy (3-0)

5. Evergreen Lutheran (3-0)

tcotterill@thenewstribune.com

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