Four-star point guard Jordan McLaughlin committed to USC this afternoon, picking the Trojans over UCLA, Kansas and Indiana. His decision, announced in a ceremony at Etiwanda High, marked one of the few times in recent memory that the Bruins lost to their crosstown rivals in a head-to-head recruiting battle.
Rated the ninth-best point guard in the country by Scout.com, McLaughlin would have filled a glaring need for UCLA. The Bruins lost a steady presence when Larry Drew II graduated, and don’t have a proven commodity to replace him at the one. Point forward Kyle Anderson is a gifted passer, but is expected to leave for the NBA next spring.
Thus far, head coach Steve Alford has indicated that his son, Bryce, has a chance to inherit the point guard spot. True freshman Zach LaVine could play there as well, but is more of a combo guard.
McLaughlin also attended the same high school as former UCLA star Darren Collison, and a commitment to the Bruins would have signaled a connection to local recruiting. One criticism that dogged former coach Ben Howland was that he had burned bridges with many AAU coaches in the Los Angeles area.
“I believe we lost the connection to the L.A. market in a way that should not have happened,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in March, hours after announcing Alford’s hire. “This is a way to get it back.”
UCLA’s only commitment for the 2014 cycle so far is four-star wing Trevon Bluiett, an Indiana native once coached by Bruins assistant Ed Schilling. The team still hopes to land four-star point guard Quentin Snider, an ex-Louisville commit deciding between Illinois and UCLA.
*A quick interview and scouting report of McLaughlin from July.