As USC Trojans basketball gears up for a new and exciting campaign, we look back on each individual player’s season and what to look for in 2017-18.
If you had to pick the one player who contributed the most to the turnaround at USC, it has to be point guard Jordan McLaughlin. McLaughlin was the big recruit brought into the Trojan family in 2014, paving the way for Chimezie Metu, Bennie Boatwright, and Charles O’Bannon Jr.
McLaughlin took the keys to a car that couldn’t go very far and excelled. He provided stability at the point guard position, leadership on and off the court, and excitement for fans. With the all-time assist record at USC in reach and well over 1,000 points, he’ll go down as one of the best Trojans in program history.
For his junior year, there was no more sharing the backcourt with Julian Jacobs. This was his team and he owned that responsibility. McLaughlin was the constant in a record-winning year for the program that featured a win over UCLA and two NCAA victories. With a usage under 20 percent, the junior captain averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and shot over 40 percent from three. He was Mr. Reliable when they needed a shot and they’re happy to have him back for his final season.
11/18/16 - W @ Texas A&M: 13 points and four assists with just one turnover in a hostile, true road game for USC.
12/23/16 - W vs Wyoming: McLaughlin goes for 22-5-7 including a game-winner to beat Wyoming on a neutral court.
01/25/17 - W vs UCLA: 10 points, eight assists, two steals and tremendous leadership for a massive upset over UCLA.
03/01/17 - W vs Washington State: McLaughlin goes for a near triple double (16 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds) to help USC end a four-game losing streak.
03/15/17 - W vs Providence: McLaughlin helps lead USC in avenging last season’s NCAA loss to Providence with 18 points, four assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, and just one turnover.
What to look for in 2017-18:
With everyone coming back and the additions of O’Bannon Jr. and Duke transfer Derryck Thornton, what the Trojans need the most from McLaughlin is leadership. Once guys are battling for minutes and competing with high expectations, Enfield needs his captain to control the locker room. As a point guard, he can also do this on the court with his distribution.
McLaughlin’s points will probably dip next season, if not more stats as well, but he won’t mind. He fits well with any guard on the roster because of his ability to handle the ball, make plays, and shoot from deep.
There’s not much improvement needed for him next season in terms of his skill set either. If McLaughlin can remain a slithery point guard with a good shooting stroke, all that’s left is maintaining his role as the team’s captain.