High-scoring guard Mark McLaughlin commits to Huskies
Mark McLaughlin, who scored 28.4 points per game last season at Tacoma Community College, will play for the Washington Huskies.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mark McLaughlin has dreamed about playing at Washington since he was 10 years old.
McLaughlin, who played this season at Tacoma Community College, admits he's been immature and has made a slew of mistakes that have forced him to take an unusual path to Montlake.
He's been connected to six different schools the past five years, before culminating a strange and well-traveled journey Tuesday night when he agreed to play for the Huskies next season.
"There were plenty of times, plenty of nights where I was like, 'Man, when are things going to go right,' because it was tough a couple of years," he said. "It was tough figuring out things.
"I was just like, 'Man, I don't know if it's going to happen or what's going to happen.' I just kept pushing and finally made it through."
Given his history of broken promises, McLaughlin understands questions about whether he plans to keep his UW commitment.
He credits his son, Jaylen, who turns 3 this month, for helping turn around his life and making it possible to fulfill a lifelong dream.
"I've grown up," McLaughlin said. "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."
McLaughlin's basketball odyssey began after a standout junior year at Inglemoor High.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard committed to Washington State in July 2007, but changed his mind and signed with Nevada in November. When Wolf Pack coach Mark Fox left for Georgia, McLaughlin was released from a binding letter of intent.
He quit the Inglemoor team in January 2008 and spent the 2008-09 season at a New Hampshire prep school. McLaughlin signed with Baylor in 2009 and spent a month at the Waco, Texas, school before leaving the program, citing a desire to be closer to his son, who lived with his mother in the Puget Sound area.
McLaughlin transferred to Seattle University and redshirted the 2009-10 season. The following year, McLaughlin played sparingly and averaged 7.2 points in 17.8 minutes in 17 games.
After the season, he quit again.
"I was just really immature," McLaughlin said. "(Coach Cameron Dollar) is a great guy and he's a great coach. It was on me. I wasn't mature enough to be successful there. I didn't work as hard as I'm working now. It was just a humbling experience. I just felt like I grew up tremendously. It just didn't work out. It wasn't anybody's fault but mine. I had to grow up and had to start working harder."
Needing a basketball home, he reconnected with old friend Carl Howell, the coach at Tacoma Community College.
"When he started out at TCC, he started with a clean slate," Howell said. "I've known Mark since he was 15 years old and known his family. The only thing I've ever known is they are great people and he's always been good with me."
McLaughlin led the nation with a 28.4-point scoring average during the regular season. He shot 51 percent from the field, 38 percent on three-pointers and 83.5 percent at the line.
He also averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
"He put our team on his back, took us to a championship and he's been a class act the whole time," Howell said. "That speaks volumes to his maturity level."
McLaughlin was named the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Western Region MVP and led TCC to a 26-5 record and its first NWAACC championship since 2002.
Gonzaga, Oregon State, West Virginia, Hawaii, Boise State and Portland State expressed interest, but McLaughlin had his eye on Washington.
The Huskies had to wait to learn if their two stars — Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. — were returning before making an offer. Once the two players chose to leave early for the NBA, McLaughlin got the call he'd been waiting for.
"I always wanted an opportunity to play for them," he said. "It's just a blessing that they gave me the opportunity."
McLaughlin, who turns 22 on April 22, has two years of eligibility remaining.
"Mark compares favorably to Tre Simmons," Howell said, referring to the former UW star who spent two years at Green River Community College before he earned first-team all-Pac-10 honors in 2005.
"They're similar size. Tre was probably a better pure shooter from the three-point line, Mark's game is more diverse. He's a better passer and a better scorer off the dribble. Mark has all the tools to be successful at that level."
• Freshman guard Andrew Andrews underwent hip surgery last Friday, and junior center Aziz N'Diaye (left wrist) also will need surgery, coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com. On Twitter @percyallen.