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USC's Jordan McLaughlin to play with Pac-12 All-Stars in Australia

USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin and incoming women's hoops freshman Valerie Higgins have been selected to join all-star squads that will play in Australia and Chile, repectively.

USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin is going to have to learn a number of new faces next season with the Trojans graduating one senior and losing six other players — two to the NBA Draft and four transferring to seek a better opportunity at another school.

But even before then, the junior will be tasked with running a team of guys that he doesn’t know very well. McLaughlin has been selected to the Pac-12 All-Star team that will travel to Australia in July to play in a series of exhibitions, including games against the Australian Men’s National Team, as part of the Pac-12 global initiative.

"It's a great honor personally, but I'm even more proud to represent USC for the Pac-12 All-Star team," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin and Washington State double-double machine Josh Hawkinson headline a 12-man team with players from 10 of the Pac-12’s universities (UCLA and Oregon are not represented). Former Stanford and Cal coach Mike Montgomery will lead the team from the bench. 

The team will play against a semi-pro team from the South East Australian Basketball League on July 10 and then twice (July 12, July 14) play the Australian National Team, which is working to cut its roster down from 17 to 12 in preparation for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

The Boomers, as the Australian National Team is known, feature some familiar faces as former Pac-12 players Andrew Bogut (Utah), Aron Baynes and Brock Motum (Washington State) are among the roster finalists. NBA players Matthew Dellavedova, Cameron Bairstow, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills and the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Ben Simmons, are also on the current roster guaranteeing some tough competition.

Former USC forward Nikola Jovanovic participated in a similar Pac-12 All-Star team global initiative tour in 2014. That team, coached by Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak, traveled to China in advance of the first-ever regular season game to be played in China when Washington played Texas in Shanghai last November. Stanford will play a game in Shanghai this season against Harvard.

"It was really an amazing experience. The opportunity to explore their culture and play against their professional teams was priceless," Jovanovic said. "It definitely helped me grew more as a player and as a person."

This year’s Pac-12 All-Star team is advancing the first NCAA football game to be played in Sydney, Australia when Cal opens the season against Hawai’i.

“This tour of Australia marks an important step forward in the Pac-12’s mission to use the power of sport to advance our schools’ reach around the world, and to give our student-athletes opportunities to learn about a new culture while playing a sport they love,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

Higgins Named to Team USA

USC women's basketball incoming freshman Valerie Higgins has earned a spot on the 2016 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team. Higgins was a late addition to the 30-player team trials, but made her mark at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. and was selected to the 12-player roster.

"It means the world, honestly. Coming out here to the trials, even getting invited is such an honor, and now making the team is even a bigger honor,” Higgins told USA Basketball. “All the girls that made it are so deserving. and it’s just an exciting opportunity.”

A 6-foot guard, Higgins recently graduated from West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade, where she was named the Los Angeles Times’ Player of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year award. She averaged 20.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists her senior year as she helped lead the Eagles to the Open Division championship title.

"What I tried to focus on was just do what I do best, get all the little hustle plays, give it 110 percent on every possession and try and show the committee what I’m good at,” Higgins said.

Team USA is hoping to defend its 2014 U-18 title at the 2016 FIBA Americas U-18 Championship to be held in Valdivia, Chile on July 13-17. Higgins and her new roster mates will return to Colorado Spring for training camp in early July.

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