Incoming Huskies basketball player Mark McLaughlin suddenly leaves program
The loss of McLaughlin leaves the Huskies with just 10 available players for their rotation this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sooner than most years, Washington began basketball practice Friday as the men's team prepares for an overseas trip this month.
Before the Huskies took the floor, their newest member — Mark McLaughlin — walked out the door on the same day, just four months after joining the squad.
The departure of the 6-foot-6 junior wing perhaps shouldn't come as a huge surprise. He's been connected with seven schools over the past six years.
However, when McLaughlin joined UW in April, he said it had always been his dream to play for the Huskies despite previously committing to Washington State, signing scholarship papers with Nevada and making brief stops at Baylor, Seattle University and Tacoma Community College.
"I've grown up," McLaughlin said at the time. "I've learned a lot about becoming a man, and men stick with their commitments. They don't go back on them. I wouldn't want my son to go back on something he told me.
"I know I had a rough past, but all I can do is keep on persevering from what I did this year and continue to show people that I'm maturing. That's really all I can do."
Attempts to reach McLaughlin were unsuccessful and coach Lorenzo Romar shed little light on the situation in a statement released by the school.
"McLaughlin has decided to leave the University of Washington to pursue other opportunities," Romar said in a news release. "Although he was only here for a short time, we enjoyed working with Mark and wish him the best in his future endeavors."
It's the second straight year the Huskies have lost a sharpshooting wing who was expected be a significant contributor. A year ago, Scott Suggs suffered a season-ending foot injury days before fall camp.
McLaughlin's departure leaves the Huskies with just 10 eligible players.
Recently, Washington added transfers Perris Blackwell (University of San Francisco) and Gilles Dierickx (Florida International), but both will redshirt this season due to NCAA rules.
McLaughlin averaged 28.4 points last season at Tacoma CC. His scoring average led the nation's community college ranks. The Huskies hoped he would fill the scoring void created when Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., their top two scorers last season, left early for the NBA.
Washington must now lean heavily on guards C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy, who last season averaged 14.2 and 8.1 points, respectively. Sophomore forward Desmond Simmons and Suggs will vie for starting spots while senior center Aziz N'Diaye returns to anchor the defense. The team also has five unproven underclassmen (Andrew Andrews, Hikeem Stewart, Jernard Jarreau, Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp Jr.) who'll likely comprise the bench.
Many expected McLaughlin to step in and immediately lead the backups.
"I thought he would have a very good career there and be a double-figure scorer and play a lot of minutes, whether he started or was like a sixth-man type of a guy," said TCC coach Carl Howell, whose team posted a 26-5 record and won the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges title with McLaughlin last season.
Howell has known McLaughlin since he starred at Inglemoor High of Kenmore, but he doesn't understand why his former star player would leave before his Husky career ever truly began.
"I just never would have envisioned this," he said. "I'm as shocked as everyone else."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com. On Twitter @percyallen.