The big story for the Washington basketball team yesterday was the fact that Mark McLaughlin has left the team. We do not know his reasoning, and all judgment should be reserved until (or if) further information is released. I was thinking about my article and I realized that even though I covered the fact that he left, no real analysis was made. Although I did get somebody to click on the Dawg Pound by searching lycanthropy, which is the fancy word for being a werewolf. Fun Fact of the day! It is time to analyze the on-court impact now.
A while back I did a Q&A with Connor Pelton of Rush the Court, and within it was a question that involved the contributions I expected from McLaughlin. The response began with talking about Shawn Kemp Jr. then gravitated towards McLaughlin. We will start there.
With McLaughlin things are interesting. He was the leading scorer in all of Junior College basketball last season, so we know he can score. We don’t know for sure how well it will translate to the Division I level and also we don’t know if he has the ability to play defense in Romar’s system. He has a chance to be here for one year then bolt to the NBA, or the chance to be a total non-factor in his two-year Washington career. I expect somewhere in the middle – a solid role player and offense off the bench, and a sixth man in his Senior season.
A conservative guess, but very plausible. We will never know what his impact would have been, but we will run through several scenarios that could have played out in the event that McLaughlin had stayed a Husky, then the same scenarios that may still happen, with the difference being that McLaughlin is not here.
Scenario 1: C.J Wilcox and Scott Suggs are the two best shooters in the entire conference, both landing on All-PAC-12 lists, and Wilcox takes home the Player of the Year Award, which precedes him being a top-10 selection in the NBA Draft. Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews hold down the fort at the point.
With McLaughlin: In this scenario, McLaughlin could be a very valuable, and maybe even above-average starting shooting guard and he would still be left with minuscule playing time because the sheer skill level ahead of him. His Senior year is when he gets the chance to shine and takes ahold of the reins. Or he doesn't and Jabari Bird (fingers crossed) takes the starting spot alongside Andrews.
This former possibility would mean that McLaughlin eventually gets a chance to shine and maybe impress NBA scouts, and would play a major role for the team in the next two years. He would be a main scoring option and play valuable minutes in his Senior season.
Without McLaughlin: The wing is very unsettled when it comes to depth. It remains to be seen how much impact Jernard Jarreau will be able to make, and Andrew Andrews is not a true wing, as he is a combo guard in every sense of the word. The following season's success from the wing position will come almost exclusively from 2013 recruits. The recruiting class that Romar may haul in is star-studded, and while we missed out on Jabari Parker, there are still big names out there in Bird and Isaac Hamilton.
Scenario 2: Wilcox makes a small step from last season and is firmly entrenched as a very good wing, just below All-Pac status. Suggs shows Senior leadership and his a notch below Wilcox in the tiers of wing players within the Pac, which gets him solid minutes, but is not the type of talent that can take over a game at any moment in time.
With McLaughlin: He would be required to shoulder a strong amount of the scoring load in his first season, and probably taking over a starting role in his Senior season, but probably still playing second fiddle when it comes to scoring behind Wilcox. Regardless, he plays valuable minutes and scores lots of points.
Without McLaughlin: This is similar to the previous scenario, but the difference is that Wilcox is there to soak up the minutes. The depth behind Wilcox will be questionable at best, and the starting guards for the 2013-14 season could end up being Andrews, Wilcox, (insert recruit). For somebody who is more worried about the future than the now in almost every single decision made, this is a scary position for me as a fan.
The loss of McLaughlin definitely hurts, but it is not a loss that can't be weathered. These scenarios are barring injuries to key players, which can happen anytime. (see: Suggs, Gaddy, WIlcox)
The football guys have been talking about attrition recently, and even though there are fewer scholarships for a basketball team, there still are cases of scholarships opening up that weren't expected to be open. Several years ago Tyrese Breshers had to retire because of a heart defect. Thank goodness that was found, nobody wants to go through another Hank Gathers scenario.
Whatever the reason for the departure of McLaughlin, I sincerely hope that he is confident in the choice he made and that he made it with good reasoning. Good luck in all of your endeavors, Mark.