Impact Report - Mark McLaughlin

After losing both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten to the NBA draft, Washington needed an impact guard capable of stepping in a playing big minutes next season. They got their man Tuesday evening when former Inglemoor High School wing Mark McLaughlin committed to the Huskies. UW beat out schools like Gonzaga, Oregon State, West Virginia, and others.

Checking in at a robust 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, McLaughlin's path to Montlake has taken its share of twists and turns. After initially committing to Washington State, McLaughlin then signed a letter of intent with Nevada, then Baylor, then played 17 games for Cameron Dollar at Seattle University before finally ending up at Tacoma Community College. It was there where McLaughlin led the country in scoring this past season with an impressive 28.4 points per game average.

Once McLaughlin signs with the Huskies on Wednesday, April 11th - the first day of the regular signing period for basketball prospects - the UW coaching staff is expecting big contributions from the 23-year old junior-to-be, now five years removed from high school. McLaughlin's TCC statistics are eye opening: 8.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 38 percent shooting from three and 51 percent shooting from the field per game. He shot the ball 581 times, 152 of those coming from beyond the arc - and encouragingly McLaughlin shot better than 80 percent from the charity stripe.

McLaughlin often draws favorable comparisons to former Husky Tre Simmons. He's incredibly versatile and particularly effective off the bounce, especially from the mid-range - something the Huskies sorely need after their two best one-on-one players moved on to the draft. He's also an above average passer and possesses effective post-up skills for a guard.

Junior college programs aren't known for their defensive structure, but the former top-100 recruit (#77) picked up a thing or two playing for defensive wizard Cameron Dollar. He's also blessed with great length for a guard and should have no trouble defending Pac-12 small forwards.

Though Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar makes no guarantees in terms of a place in the Huskies' starting rotation, it isn't hard to figure out how McLaughlin will fit in given the recent pro defections. The Huskies return Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox, who figure to be sure bets for the starting lineup. Washington also returns senior Scott Suggs, the team's leading three point shooter two years ago who was sidelined with a foot injury last season. Suggs may be the odds-on favorite to start at the third guard spot, but the position will be wide open and McLaughlin will be given the opportunity to compete for a starting role - or at least draw starter minutes in a formidable wing rotation. Toss stellar redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews into the mix and you've got the making of a dangerous perimeter rotation that figures to be even deeper than this past season - and they should be superior defensively.

McLaughlin addition fills one of two key off-season needs for the Huskies. If they can, Washington needs to find an impact post player who can score on the block and relieve some of the scoring pressure on the Huskies' backcourt. McLaughlin fits with the talented, experienced, yet suddenly obscure Husky roster, that - for the first time in memory - doesn't feature an obvious first round NBA draft pick.

Heading into next season, the Huskies are coming together. The individual pieces should have Husky fans excited, but they are just that - pieces to a bigger puzzle. The top six players will all be over 21, which will give the Huskies the most experienced roster in the conference. With more roster additions possibly announced before the start of the signing period on the 11th, the addition of McLaughlin appears to be the start of a 2012 recruiting class that has promise.

Could Washington add coveted Connecticut transfer Alex Oriakhi, the 6-10, 240-pound Big East center who is also being recruited by Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky? Or do they have a shot at former Kansas State signee Robert Upshaw, who prepped at the same high school as former UW player Quincy Pondexter? Or do they have their sights set on prospects outside the United States? They've already reached out to places like Senegal (Aziz N'diaye) and Germany (Martin Breunig), so could they go international one more time?

Or does the UW coaching staff have something else up their sleeves…?

Stay tuned.

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