Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Scout's take: McLaughlin a big get for USC
By Paul Biancardi
Jordan McLaughlin (Etiwanda, Calif./Etiwanda), the No. 18 player in the 2014 ESPN 100, committed to USC on Wednesday, choosing the Trojans over UCLA, Indiana and Kansas. Our scouts offer a take on how he will fit in with the Trojans.
Why he committed: When you look at the roster there will be no true point guard on the USC roster next season and there was a dire need at that position. Being a local product, McLaughlin felt good about the new staff and staying close to home where family and friends can see him play and support him.
What he brings: McLaughlin is an excellent decision maker who can run a team and knows when to push the tempo or pull back and set up the attack. He’s slight of build but he is super athletic with a second gear to blow past any defender and has the vision to make an assist or the aggressiveness to go in for a dunk. On his high school team he serves a distributor first and scores in transition or with his drive game. His jumper is good enough from deep to keep the defense honest. He’s also comfortable at times playing off the ball and looking to score. He brings many qualities and with his lighting speed and quickness he serves as a one-man press break. He’s well-schooled on the defensive end by his high school coach, Dave Kleckner, whose teams are very sound solid and strong on defense.
How he fits: Andy Enfield’s style of play at USC has yet to be determined, but if you go off his results at Florida Gulf Coast it will be to push the pace looking for transition points by way of layups and lobs. In the half court, expect the Trojans to spread the floor and look for mismatches and McLaughlin will have plenty of space to operate his penetration and drive game. McLaughlin plays right into that style because speed is his calling card. He puts pressure on the defense and can drive and find or make a lob pass to the rim. He further aids the running game by advancing the ball with a throw-ahead pass or with a speed dibble in the open floor. Because his frame is thin, durability could be an issue in his first season so an offseason strength program will be vital to enhance his sturdiness.
Who he reminds us of: Maurice Cheeks, who played at West Texas A&M then went on to be a star in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and was four times named to the NBA all-defensive first team. Like Cheeks, McLaughlin possesses the speed, quickness and vision with the ball in his hands. He will be looking to run a team and make all the correct decisions while spreading the ball around to shooters, drivers and post players. Cheeks very rarely turned it over and McLaughlin by nature is more of a decision maker vs. a risk taker. He can be trusted to run the offense, but understands when to take a risk. When the open shot is available, both could knock it down but were not shooters come out of high school. They are both quiet by nature and somehow still can manage their teams through non-verbal ways, which is a striking characteristic they share.
How the class is shaping up: It’s USC’s second commit (the Trojans also have Miami Northeast high three-star PF Malik Price-Martin) and it is a major statement because it shows that the Trojans staff is working hard to reestablish ties with the high-level local players to hopefully begin an influx of California talent to USC. Having a top level point guard in place for the future is such a huge part of a team’s success or failure and McLaughlin, because he is so unselfish, will automatically attract other prospects. The Trojans are working Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif./Mater Dei), who is No. 12 in the ESPN 100, very hard right now but look like the darkhorse in the race. They are also in the hunt for big man Jabari Craig (Tucker, Ga./Tucker).