Archive | August, 2012

Mark McLaughlin’s long, strange basketball journey

11 Aug

Mark McLaughlin, on why he surprisingly left Baylor University as a freshman before the season started: “To take care of some personal issues that [I] needed to come home to do.

Mark McLaughlin, after he surprisingly left Seattle University midway through the season two years ago: “A lot of people that don’t know me think I’m a head case… I just had to grow up.

Mark McLaughlin, after he transferred to the University of Washington this summer: “I’ve learned a lot about becoming a man and men stick with their commitments. They don’t go back on them.

Now, McLaughlin has, perhaps not so surprisingly, gone back on his latest commitment and left the University of Washington before the season started. In the words of Lorenzo Romar, he is going to “pursue other opportunities.” In all likelihood, those opportunities will not include playing Division-I college basketball. The man has probably run out of second chances.

And that’s a shame for a local prospect that had such a high ceiling as he graduated from high school. A three-star recruit, McLaughlin was highly rated as a guard/forward coming out of Inglemoor High School.

The basketball talent is still there. Last year, at Tacoma Community College, McLaughlin averaged 28.4 points per game and led TCC to a 22-5 regular-season record. He was a hot prospect last year, scouted by West Virginia, Oregon State and Gonzaga before signing with the UW.

But whatever it is that caused McLaughlin to leave Seattle U mid-season two years ago, and bail on both Baylor and Washington before their respective seasons started, is clearly still an issue.

College basketball players are, by nature, young. Young athletes are still developing as people, and everyone goes through this on a different timeline. McLaughlin, for all he’s been through – and it’s been a lot, having been with so many schools already on his resume – is still young. He clearly has things to work out in his life, and it’s probably best for his sake that he focuses on them and on being a positive role model for his three-year-old son.

McLaughlin could have been a great player for Seattle U. Or for Washington. Or for Washington State, Nevada or Baylor, the other three colleges he’s been affiliated with. It’s a shame that that’s not going to happen, but if he can mature and develop as a person, that’ll be great, too.

Maybe he’s a head case. Maybe he has some personal issues. But he definitely still has basketball talent. And maybe, wherever the well-traveled Mark McLaughlin ends up next, he’ll be able to work those out, excel on the court, and truly become a man.

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