JaQuori McLaughlin has earned every minute he’s played for the Peninsula High School boys basketball team this season — literally.
Jake Jackson has a board in his locker room office — about the size of the 6-foot-4 McLaughlin’s wingspan — with “The Gold Standard” titled across the top. Each player is represented by their jersey number with a row for their stickers — gold P’s, basketballs, jerseys and wings.
The stickers are for those who earn the most gold standard points in a game, practice or week of practice. The wings are simply for doing something that makes Jackson happy — such as cheering while on the bench or taking a key charge.
No. 0 (McLaughlin) has so many stickers, there’s barely room to contain but one or two more.
“If you are the best player, you should be the best player in practice and you should be dominating every drill,” Jackson said.
McLaughlin has been the best player in every drill, practice and game for Peninsula.
And on Sunday the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association met and selected McLaughlin as its 2015-16 Mr. Basketball — the most exemplary player on and off the court in any classification, Jackson said. Multiple other WIBCA coaches confirmed it, though the information had not been officially released.
McLaughlin will try to lead Peninsula to the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2007 and the third time in school history with a win against Cleveland in a state regional at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School.
“I’ve seen a lot of great players play in (the Tacoma Dome),” McLaughlin said. “That was fun watching them. But I see myself there this year.”
Jackson got the idea for the gold standard working as an undergraduate assistant at the University of Arizona under a first-year coach from Xavier named Sean Miller in 2009. It was a way to keep players accountable for their practice effort and took out the subjectivity in distributing playing time.
He uses three team managers to track the points. Make a free throw in practice, get a point. Miss one, lose a point. Two points for offensive rebounds, one for screens that lead to a basket, two for steals, and one for blocks, deflections and hustling for loose balls.
If your team won a drill, you get a point. If you foul you lose one. Take a bad shot? Lose a point.
1,045Number of gold standard points Peninsula’s JaQuori McLaughlin has accumulated during Peninsula’s 24 games this season, in which is it 21-3. That’s more than any player of the team and he’s averaging almost 10 more per game than the next best player (Jimmy Ritchie, who is expected to return from a foot injury for Saturday’s game, is averaging 34.76, while McLaughlin averages 43.54).
849Number of gold standard points Peninsula’s JaQuori McLaughlin accumulated during Peninsula’s 25 games in the 2014-15 season, when it went 18-7.
And in the end: You don’t practice well, you don’t play.
McLaughlin had more gold standard points when he was a freshman than any other player on the team. He’s had more than any player in every year he’s been at Peninsula.
“I approach practice like it’s a game,” said McLaughlin, an Oregon State signee who averaged 16.4 points and 8.6 assists per game during the regular season. He’s scored a school record 1,682 points in his four years at Peninsula.
I think I’ve always been a person to go hard in practice. Go hard whenever I step on a court, really.
Peninsula senior JaQuori McLaughlin
But this year he had to go a little slower.
At least scoring wise. McLaughlin averaged almost 22 shots per game last year. This year he’s averaged less than 14.
Most scouting services had begun listing him as a shooting guard. McLaughlin said he grew up idolizing Magic Johnson and Steve Nash and always saw himself as a point guard.
So he spent the summer going to camps, including attending the Under Armour All-America camp in Charlotte, trying to prove he could be a floor general.
"It was definitely my mission," McLaughlin said.
And it was best for Peninsula. Consider Peninsula’s last two district losses.
He made 17 of 26 shots and scored 39 points in last year’s season-ending 79-63 loss to Kennedy Catholic in the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
In Peninsula’s overtime loss to Enumclaw in this year’s district semifinals, McLaughlin made 12 of 29 shots for 37 points.
Jackson said he met with McLaughlin before the season about preparing him for the Pac-12 and making him a better distributor.
"His freshman year he had to take over. A lot of isolation. Sophomore year – same thing," Jackson said. "Last year more team ball, but in the biggest game of the season we lose to Kennedy and he has 39 points.
I said, ‘In order for us to get more team wins, it’s not you scoring 35 points per game. It’s you getting 7-8 assists per game and getting teammates involved in the offense.
Peninsula coach Jake Jackson
He’s since taken about eight fewer shots per game and more than doubled his assists per game.
And Jackson said it’s no coincidence that Peninsula was 18-7 last year … and now it’s 21-3 so far this year, including 5-0 against teams from Tacoma.
"It takes a lot of humility for him to do that," said senior guard Garrett Kingman. "If he wanted to, he could be the man and average the most points in the state or do whatever he wanted. But he took that role where now he’s always averaging a double-double in points and assists."
"A lot of it has always been pressed on JaQuori. Ever since his freshman year everything has had to be him. Now we have Jimmy (Ritchie) and Austin (Kingman) and other people who can step up."
McLaughlin set a school record with 14 assists in one game this year.
But what was it like? Losing all those shots and averaging about seven fewer points per game in his senior year?
"It wasn’t hard for me because of how good my teammates are," McLaughlin said. "How much time they have put in. I trust them.
"I never really wanted to complain about any of that stuff. I wanted to play the right way, get my teammates involved – make everyone better when I’m on the floor."
It’s the reason the rest of the state’s coaches viewed him as the gold standard of the state.
"In my mind, I have always felt that I am the best player in the state," McLaughlin said. "But just getting that recognition from other people feels really good."
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
THE GOLD STANDARD
Peninsula coach Jake Jackson has used managers to track his gold standard practice totals and each player’s practice efficiency ratings (PER) since he took over the program four years ago. Oregon State signee JaQuori McLaughlin has led the team in gold standard points every year since his freshman year. He has 2,068 gold standard practice points through 37 practices as of Monday, according to Jackson. He said it usually takes him about three hours to break down film for gold standard points after games.
GOLD STANDARD PRACTICE POINTS
55.89 (37 practices)
48.60 (40 practices)
30.10 (40 practices)
11.37 (35 practices)
How Peninsula determines points during a game or practice:
Free throws: Make (+1), miss (-1)
Two-pointers: Make (+2), miss (-1)
Three-pointers: Make (+3), miss (-1)
Defensive rebounds: +1
Offensive rebounds: +2
Screen assist: +1
Block, deflection, loose ball, hustle: +1
Steal, forced turnover: +2
Draw foul: +1
Team win: +1
Defensive sin: -1
Bad shot: -1