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Tacoma's Mark McLaughlin commits to University of Washington

TCC star Mark McLaughlin: "I've grown up"

Posted by Percy Allen | Also listen to Softy interview with TCC head coach Carl Howell
reposted from The Seattle Times

Mark McLaughlin, who committed to Washington Tuesday night, admits he's been immature in the past, but he takes responsibility for the mistakes that forced him to bounce between eight schools in five years.

The former Inglemoor High star committed to Washington State as junior in 2007, which began a series of misteps as he traveled the country in search for a basketball home. He signed with Nevada, played at a prep school in New Hampshire, signed with Baylor, spent two years at Seattle University, played just 17 games with the Redhawks and finally flourished last season at Tacoma Community College.

After leading the nation with a 28.4 scoring average during the regular season, he drew interest from Oregon State, West Virginia, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Boise State and Portland State.

He shot 51 percent from the field (294-for-581), 38 percent on three-pointers (57-for-152) and 83.5 percent (207 of 248) at the line. He also averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

McLaughlin wanted to stay close to home to be near his soon-to-be three-year-old son Jaylen. He also wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream to play at Washington.

This time he plans to stick with his commitment.

"I've grown up," he said. "I've learned a lot about becoming a man and men stick with their commitments. They don't go back on them. I wouldn't want my son to go back on something he told me. Again, I got to set an example. That's what I'm going to do. I know I had a rough past and stuff like that, but all I can do is keep on persevering from what I did this year and continue to show people that I'm maturing. That's really all I can do."

Here's a full transcript of the interview.

(First off, congratulations.) "Yeah, I committed to the University of Washington last night on the phone with coach (Lorenzo Romar)."

(Why Washington?) "It's always been a dream of mine to play for the University of Washington," McLaughlin said. "Me and coach (Carl Howell) have a real strong relationship at Tacoma and I feel like I can have the same thing with coach Romar."

(How old is this dream?) "Since I was little, since I was about 10 I've always loved U-Dub and I always wanted an opportunity to play for them so it's just a blessing that they gave me the opportunity to play for them."

(Have you had a chance to take a look at this journey you've traveled and just appreciate where you're at now?) "Yeah definitely. Everything that I went through was real humbling. It just made me grow as a person. It taught me a lot. I learned how to persevere. I was real immature back then and everything helped me mature. It was all a blessing in disguise because now I'm a lot more mature and I'm more ready to handle my business and do what I need to do to be successful at the college level."

(What caused you to grow up quickly?) "Having my son (Jaylen). Seeing him grow older it just made do what I needed to do to set an example for him. Seeing him made just want to do better and be better. I had to set an example and he needs to what I'm saying reflect in my actions."

(How old is your son?) "He'll be three in April."

(Same here. My kid turns three in a couple of months.) "Congratulations. It's crazy to see them grow. They do so many knew things every day. It's always fun to watch it."

(Sounds like your son has been good for you.) "Just growing up. People mature at different ages. I think that's what it is with me. Coach Howell and (assistant Jay Barsh) did a great job with me. They helped me learn, persevere to make it through tough times. I'm just thankful I have those guys in my life. I'm just very happy."

(Was there a moment when you thought this wouldn't happen?) "I thought there was a chance it might not happen, but once I saw (Terrence Ross) and (Tony Wroten Jr.) declared for the draft I knew that they were going to come pretty hard to get things done. I knew that I always wanted to go to Washington, it was just a matter of getting the offer. I was just happy when it came. I'm just blessed and thankful."

(Seems like things happened fairly quickly?) "Yeah it was. I just kind of had to wait and see what those guys were going to do. Obviously if those guys had stayed, it would have been real crowded especially if Ross stayed. I just had to wait and see what their decisions were. After their decisions, I made mine."

(How do you think you'll fit with UW next season?) "I think I'll fit pretty good. Abdul Gaddy is a great point guard. I feel like (C.J. Wilcox) is a great shooter and a great player. I feel like I can come in an contribute and do a little bit of everything and add on to what those guys do. I'm a hard-working guy. I know I'm not going to get as many shots as I had at TCC. I want to come in and contribute, knock down shots, get assists, rebound and play defense. Just do a little bit of everything."

(Do you know the UW players?) "I played with them in the summers some time. Me and Abdul have known each other for a long time. I have a pretty good relationship with Abdul."

(Have you talked to anyone on the team yet?) "Not yet."

(You don't have to go into any great detail if it makes you feel uncomfortable, but what happened at Seattle University?) "I was just really immature. (Coach Cameron Dollar) is a great guy and he's a great coach. It was on me. I wasn't mature enough to be successful there. I didn't work as hard as I'm working now. It was just a humbling experience. I just felt like I grew up tremendously. It just didn't work out. It wasn't anybody's fault, but mine. I had to grow up and had to start working harder."

(Statistics don't tell the whole story, but the stats say you played 17 games, averaged 7 points and didn't play the final three games. Was it a mutual parting of the ways or was it more than that?) "It was just a mutual parting of the ways I guess you can say."

(How did you find TCC?) "I always had a relationship with coach Howell. He offered me after my sophomore year (at Inglemoor High). He was the first coach to offer me. He and my mom always kept in touch. He was always checking up on me and just watching out for me. Once I knew I'd have to go to a junior college, he was the first person I called because I always trusted him. I knew that I could be successful with him."

(Did you imagine this type of season?) "No I definitely didn't imagine this type of a season. I put in a lot of hard work, but I couldn't imagine I'd lead the nation in scoring and win a championship. I was just so thankful and blessed that God helped me through that. It's just crazy to me. It's crazy. I didn't expect this at all."

(It's really like a Disney movie. If you told this story five years ago to someone, would anyone have believed you?) "I don't even think I would have believed that story."

(Was there a moment along this journey when you thought that maybe big-time college basketball isn't in your future?) "There were plenty of times, plenty of nights where I was like man when are things going to go right because it was tough a couple of years. It was tough figuring out things. I was just like man I don't know if it's going to happen or what's going to happen. I was just kept pushing through and finally made it through."

(Because of your well-traveled past, I have to ask will you stick with this commitment to Washington?) "Yes. Definitely."

(Why do you say that?) "I've grown up. I've learned a lot about becoming a man and men stick with their commitments. They don't go back on them. I wouldn't want my son to go back on something he told me. Again, I got to set an example. That's what I'm going to do. I know I had a rough past and stuff like that, but all I can do is keep on persevering from what I did this year and continue to show people that I'm maturing. That's really all I can do."

(What are you going to study at UW?) "I don't know yet. I got to figure that out. I want to study something that will help me get my degree because I want to become a coach after I'm done playing so I got to make sure I get that degree."

(You've got two years at UW, what would you like to accomplish?) "I just want to have a successful time at UW. Work hard. Win a Pac-12 championship and make the NCAA tournament. Whatever I have to do for my team, just do that. That's what I want to do."

(Got to ask about this 41-point game I keep hearing about. Tell me about that night.) "It was crazy you know. The night before we lost a heartbreaker to one of our rivals in the NWAAC so everybody was a little sad. We knew we had to come in a pick it up. The first half I did alright, but the second I just caught fire. Everything was going in. It was just one of those nights where everything you practiced paid off. It was crazy."

(Who was the opponent?) "Skagit Valley."

(Ever have a night like that before? Maybe not scoring as many points, but to where you felt like you couldn't miss.) "In high school I had a couple of good games against Franklin where I had like 35 points. But I don't know. That night was crazy. It felt like everything was going in so I never really had a night like that before."

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