How future Husky and Cougar basketball players joined forces in offseason
When it comes to rivalries, few are quite like the one between the Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies. But over a three-month period this spring, future Coug men’s basketball player Demarquise Johnson found support from an unlikely source.
Indeed, Johnson found himself living in Tacoma with someone who treated him like a brother, welcomed him into his home — and plans to wear the purple and gold.
The player in question? Future Husky Mark McLaughlin.
An assist belongs to Johnson’s former AAU coach, Clint Parks. He moved to Tacoma from Brentwood, Calif., to go back to school, support McLaughlin and help him “through anything.” The two will be graduating together from Tacoma Community College later this month.
Parks, who coached Johnson for three years on Team Eleate, met McLaughlin through a mutual friend last year, and has been training him ever since.
Johnson, meanwhile, had finished up all his class requirements at Westwind Prep, and headed to Tacoma as well. It was a decision that paid major dividends.
“He developed a lot,” Parks said. “Anytime you can go against someone like Mark on a day-to-day basis, it’s only going to make you better. I told Que (Johnson) I didn’t care who he played in prep school, there was no one better than Mark. He’s (McLaughlin) an opposite player, so he got to learn the game from the different standpoint of not having to rely on athletic ability.”
The 6-foot-5 Johnson and 6-6 McLaughlin were essentially joined at the hip this spring.
“Working with Mark definitely helped me a lot,” Johnson said. “He’s like an image of me, but he’s also got some size on me so it got me used to having to work with bigger players. It made me stronger and helped my game.”
McLaughlin, also a great passer, topped all junior-college scorers with 28.4 average in the regular season (27.5 overall). He led Tacoma Community College to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) championship and is scheduled to start classes at Washington on July 17.
“He’s a really big guard,” McLaughlin said of Que. “He can shoot it and he has a good feel for the game. It was good for both of us because we’re wings and we went after each other. The only thing he needs to work on a bit is his ball handling, but he’s an amazing talent who is going to be very successful.”
While playing for TCC, McLaughlin worked out with Johnson every day in addition to his practices.
“He’s like a little brother to Mark,” Parks said of Johnson. “He looks up to Mark — he was great for Que. You couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
After graduating from Kenmore’s Inglemoor High School in 2008, McLaughlin went on a roller-coaster ride. He committed and then de-committed from two schools, (WSU and Nevada) and left Baylor. He eventually wound up at Seattle University. After a year, he left the Redhawks’ program, and enrolled at TCC. McLaughlin said he wanted impart to Johnson lessons he had learned both on and off the court.
“Que’s like my little brother,” McLaughlin said. “I tried to teach him things about the game and I try giving him advice whenever I can because I went through a lot of things from high school to college. I don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did.”
McLaughlin said Johnson was down after not initially passing the SAT, but no one was happier than McLaughlin and Parks when the future Coug earned a qualifying score.
“He earned that score,” Parks said. “He put the time in and got it done.”
That didn’t stop the trash talk this spring. Johnson said the two would jaw back and forth about the Cougs and Huskies. Johnson jokingly said that McLaughlin was the instigator most of the time.
“Yeah, he talked a lot, but it was fun,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun playing against him because he’s such a good player. I’m just excited about the thought of playing D-I. I’ll work hard and try my best.”
“It was fun,” McLaughlin said. “We have a little friendly rivalry. Every night we’d talk about playing against each other on TV next season. We just can’t wait for it.”
Neither can Cougar and Husky basketball fans.
A version of this story originally was published on Cougfan.com
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