The future looks rather bright for coach Andy Enfield's USC Trojans thanks in large part to the play of talented freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin. The Trojans speak extremely highly of this guy, both on the court as the No. 6 point guard prospect in the nation, and as a respected character for this program.
The Trojans lost their starting point guard from last season, Pe'Shon Howard, opening the door for a new leader to emerge on the program. While Julian Jacobs and Darion Clark are the voted captains on the squad, the impact J-Mac has on the floor will ultimately decide whether USC can grow from a 11-win team last season.
USC is very guard heavy, however, so McLaughlin will have to emerge as a leader in the pack. His skill set as a shooter, a driver to the basket and ability to facilitate make him the No. 2 most important player on the roster.
2. Jordan McLaughlin - Point Guard
The Trojans' highest touted prospect under coach Andy Enfield will be expected to contribute right away, and that seems rather likely from what we've seen to this point. McLaughlin is a four-star recruit expected to start right away. He did so in USC's exhibition last weekend against Cal State Los Angeles and he led the way with 18 points (on 17 shots), kickstarting an otherwise malignant first-half offensive attack.
Jordan McLaughlin can do a lot of things well on the court, but I was extremely impressed with his ability to get to the basket at will. Granted the competition wasn't the best, but McLaughlin has an explosive first step and is very composed with the basketball in his hands, especially in tight spaces. That quickness will allow him to penetrate the defense and create opportunities to score, especially once he learns to finish better against much bigger defenders at the bucket.
What McLaughlin will be able to do right from day one is fire up the long ball. He went 3-for-7 from behind the arc last weekend and showed an impressive range from both sides of the floor. As Andy Enfield has told McLaughlin during practice, "take any open shot" that you can find.
That trust in a player, who has still yet to play his first official collegiate game, speaks volumes to the level of confidence Enfield and his staff have in the Etiwanda, California native. Jordan McLaughlin can not only score the basketball, he's an excellent communicator on both ends of the floor. That will be especially important on a young USC defense where talking will be vital when the Trojans may often feature a four-guard lineup that will switch a lot on screens and cover a slew of players on the perimeter.
The Trojans have a fierce competitor that will do anything to help his team win. Case in point, McLaughlin played with a torn labrum scoring 21 points in a playoff game. (His shoulder is all good to go now after offseason surgery.)
He's very close to being USC's most important player this season, but McLaughlin may be the most impactful player on the teams' overall win/loss record.
Here's some Jordan McLaughlin highlights from his senior season at Etiwanda HS: