Tag Archives: Jordan McLaughlin

PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Los Angeles Schools (UCLA & USC)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)

UCLA Preview


At what point is the 15-17 record exhausted? What about the letter? You’re unfamiliar? Perfect. Let’s be besties. The Bruins concluded 2016 with their 4th losing season since 1948. That’s a minute. And because it was the fault of the defense (199th nationally, 9th in the Pac-12), Steve Alford returned his contract extension bonus ($5.2M) and apologized to fans. We’ll get further into things below. But UCLA basketball hasn’t felt like UCLA basketball for awhile. What’s going to change this year? Is it a top-5 recruiting class? Seen it. Is it a new attitude? Heard about it. What? Will? Change?

Last season on “Keeping up with Wooden”

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Week 13 PacHoops Pac-12 Power Rankings: Super Bowl Excuses

I got credentialed to last year’s Pac-12 tournament. It was awesome and in that wonderful first day of basketball, USC knocked off the fifth seeded Sun Devils. It was USC’s sixth win over a conference opponent in two years and it came at the hands of my behated (word?) Devils. I don’t know if you “have” schadenfreude or wish it or feel it but knowing what the German word translates to, that’s what I have/feel/wish for ASU. Until I had to go into that presser and listen to sixth-year senior Shaq McKissic talk about the game. To listen to Bo Barnes explain how the shittiest team in the Pac-12 could erase a 14-point lead in the game’s final ten minutes was miserable. All the ill I’d have ever wished on the Sun Devils was manifesting but the moment’s cruel reality was that I had to see what my schadenfreude created. I wanted nothing to do with it. It looked awful. They answered their questions with red eyes, barely audible, then left the stage. I felt for them. It wasn’t the stakes of the Super Bowl but those red eyes suggested otherwise. Josh Norman. Cam didn’t answer a few questions. I’m pretty much OK with it.


1. Oregon

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Week 10 PacHoops Pac-12 Power Rankings: I ain’t trippin’

How many hot takes could you come up with surrounding Jarmal Reid’s trip? I chose not to because I ain’t trippin’. Of course no one condones this behavior. Of course it was a regrettable action. Oregon State has taken action, disciplined the kid 4 games and the conference – who didn’t even have to dip Reid into the holy suspensions waters – approved of the action. Kudos. In completely unrelated news, four Pac-12 commits will be included in this year’s McDonald’s All-American game. Burgers.

Anyhow, this week had the feel of normalization. There was a blowout (2 actually) and zero overtimes. It didn’t feel as CrAzY as previous weeks ‘felt’ and especially as the rest of the nation (most notably the top-25) was ravaged. Duke lost its third consecutive game as a ranked team to an unranked opponent for the first time since the ’60s and I love it! USC is ranked which is completely unrelated to Duke’s lack of success.

Power rankings:

1. USC

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2015-16 USC Basketball Preview: Troy’s stability

Well, that quote was from two and a half years ago off the record in practice when I was making a point. It wasn’t intended to be any disrespect to anyone else. So the fact that you bring that up, I forgot about that.”

And you know exactly who said that and what quote he’s talking about (except for my mom who says reading what I write is like a foreign language to her). But as reminder, that was our presser winning Trojan head coach, Andy Enfield!, being brash and arrogant just like the Trojans grow ‘em. And we haven’t heard much from him since. Which I suppose is a good thing. You can’t do much chest bumping and mouth running when you’ve only ever won six Pac-12 games. Furthermore, he’s currently BMOC as the football coaching situation is what it is. Andy Enfield is the most stable thing USC has right now. And yet we’re still not convinced of what he’s capable of doing. Is he out of his weight class? Or was the cupboard just that bare when he inherited Kevin O’Neil’s Trojans (yes, yes it was)? Rebuilding generally takes about four seasons. By recruiting measures, Enfield appears to be tracking quite well. The concern lies in 23 total wins and no signature victory. But maybe I’m not giving enough value to their first round Pac-12 tournament win (the classic 12/5 upset) last season. Of course beating ASU has rarely been the projection point for a basketball programs, but in the midst of rebuilding, you’ll take what you can get.

Why I love them

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PacHoops Power Rankings: It’s That Month

With the end approaching, I’m curious if that means we begin to see true colors. Careers are winding down and the significance of everything is seemingly magnified. And for as much as we want to believe that a mid-January game holds equal bearing to a late-February contest, we just know that’s not the case. Furthermore, the calendar changed. It’s March, the universal excuse for madness to ensue. So naturally Arizona won another Pac-12 Title. Who’s ready for brackets?


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PacHoops Power Rankings: Signature Wins

Only twice before has Wayne Tinkle even competed against a KenPom Top-10 team. He lost those two games by an average of 35.5 points. And then Sunday happened and it was basically a lot of this all happening at once. Namely, Tinkle Time arrived and as crunch time hit, only one team was tinkling down its leg. Big win.

The biggest game out of the state of Oregon of course comes tonight. Begging the question as to which should be more discussed? Beavers or Ducks? In my estimation its a no brainer. It’s not really even a question except for this guy who needed to learn how to take screen grabs (check the browser search windows). G’luck Ducks – may you fair better than the Pac’s Middle Amoeba.


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USC Trojans Basketball Preview: Andy got a Point Guard

Well we’re not in El Paso any more, Amanda. Ok, so the Enfields never were in El Paso but I still haven’t come down from Andy’s jab at the guy who used to have his job, Tim Floyd. Nevertheless, getting this Trojan program up to par is going to take a little more than tapping heels and repeating a wishful determination. It’s also going to take more than Katin Reinhardt. But with Byron Wesley returning…wait, he’s in Spokane playing for a national title contender? Well shit. So let’s be serious: Year 2 of the Galen Dunk Center is probably going to be a little rough. Not quite two-conference wins rough, but not a ton better.

Why I Love Them:

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Pac-12 Basketball Recruiting: Early signing period links

Aside from Herb Sendek’s twitter account, recruiting is the weirdest thing in college basketball. I follow it but I hate myself for following it. It’s the future of your program and it’s lusting for 17 year-olds. I hate that I just wrote that. But LOIs have been signed – binding contracts more firmly kept than a Kardashian prenuptial – and the 2014 classes are taking pretty firm shape.

Here are some notes and links on the Pac-12’s early signing period:

Washington State

Tremaine Isabell is a PG out of Seattle. He’s unrated by the scouting services but Jeff Nusser gives a good synopsis of what the Cougs are getting here. The question, of course, is who’s Isabell going to be playing for next season?

Washington – 

The Dawgs have inked two essentially local talents in Olympia’s Donaven Dorsey and British Columbia’s Tristan Etienne. Here, Percy Allen breaks down the significance of these post commitments. He has some interesting notes on Romar’s recruiting direction.

Oregon –

N/A as no one has graduated yet to transfer. I keeeeed! Dana’s bringing in four new players in Dwayne Benjamin, Michael Chandler, Ray Kasongo, and Casey Benson (a product from my home state!). Chandler might be the most interesting of these pickups as he’s a former top-50 prospect who couldn’t qualify and went the JC route.

Oregon State

Another class that might not play for the coach they signed with, the Beavers signed four noobs: Isaiah Manderson, Chai Baker, Devin Watson and….THE MITTEN! Yes it’s Gary Payton’s son (Gary Payton Jr.) who has earned the nickname THE MITTEN in the shadow of his father’s glove.


Monty has never been known as a mega recruiter but he picks up 4-star point guard, Ahmaad Rorie a season removed from an outstanding class including Jabari Bird.


Dawkins brings in an excellent class that is rated 14th by Scout. We of course aren’t positive if he’ll still be the coach in 2014 but that’s neither here nor there. We do know that the Cardinal are about to lose a lot of talent so garnering this class is imperative for the Cardinal to fight on ;).


Kevon Looney picked UCLA in a late surprise but no one should really care about that part. The fact is that Alford has reeled in a talented big man for a season in which he’s about to lose the Wear family. This was a critical get and the first big one of Alford’s UCLA tenure. They also signed Gyorgy Goloman. I know nothing of this Hungarian but it is also worth noting that Isaac Hamilton is kind of a piece of this class as he’s “transferring” from UTEP.

USC – 

Any Enfield made the first big splash in the revamped LA coaching scene when he garnered a commitment from Jordan McLaughlin. Joining the LA-area guard in Enfield’s 2014 class are forward Malik Price-Martin and center Jabari Craig. Another transfer note is that the Trojans will pick up Katin Reinhardt amongst others but I can’t keep up with all the transfers so…good luck.

Arizona –

Sean Miller continues to own California as he grabbed both Parker Jackson Cartwright and Stanley Johnson out of LA. The Wildcats also got a commitment from 5-or4-star PF, Craig Victor who I sometimes call Victor Craig and vice versa. Kadeem Allen also joins the 2014 class as a Juco addition in the back court. Miller expects his class to grow (Justise Winslow on Wednesday? Myles Turner in the spring?).

Arizona State –

Herb is finding strength in numbers. He’s inked six kids to his 2014 class as he’s about to lose Jahii and Jordan and Jermaine (the killer J’s?). Here is his class: C Octavious Ellis (JC), SG Gerry Blakes (JC), SG Roosevelt Scott (JC), PG Tra Holder, C Connor MacDougall, PG Kodi Justice. Holder and MacDougall are 4-stars and the latter is a local kid out of Phoenix and that’s critical to successful programs.

Colorado –

As I noted in the above ASU snippet, garnering the locals is critical. While Tad Boyle missed out on mega recruit and Colorado native, Josh Perkins, he’s did manage to get Dominique Collier – a four-star recruit from Denver’s East HS. Joining Dom will be Tory Miller out of NH.

Utah –

Larry K has seemingly revamped his lineup in each of his three seasons at Utah. But he’s starting to get things done on the recruiting trail and is following my favorite model: the aforementioned keeping-local-talent. His 2014 class includes: Isaiah Wright, Kyle Kuzma, and Brekkott Chapman. Chapman is the gem of this class. He’s a local four-star, power forward and has a cool first name.

Jordan McLaughlin Picks USC and the Battle for LA is On

Jordan McLaughlin – the four or five or four star PG out of Southern California (Etiwanda) – is staying in SoCal. USC to be exact. Not UCLA to be inexact.

And this had many a-person surprised as McLaughlin was the top available PG prospect on the West Coast. And because UCLA’s current roster is sans PG with no incoming class-o-13 help. And because former UCLA star, Darren Collison, also attended Etiwanda High. And because…well…it’s USC?

In what’s been the most notable if not first head-to-head recruiting battle in the Enfield-Alford era of Los Angeles, Enfield wins. Which is what’s got everyone up in arms and has offered some the opportunity to further question the hiring of Alford. Here he’s missed out on a local prospect of promising talent at the position he most coveted. On the surface this appears to not only be a mano-e-mano loss to a bitter rival, but also failure to complete a roster. Ouch.

Now all week I’ve found myself mired in a myriad of Pac-12 coaching rankings. You can read a good one here. The one component that consistently arises in these debates is where to rank Mr. Alford. Most want to push him right down to the latter half of lead men, swimming with the Bones and Robinsons of the Pac (for the record he ranks fifth on my list based on career achievement and program expectations). By many accounts, he’s already hated and he’s destined to fail – if he hasn’t already. Yet amidst these conversations I contemplated the devil’s advocacy.

He’s won 385 games (3rd most in the Pac). He’s danced seven times (3rd most in the Pac). He’s won five NCAA tournament games (5th most in the Pac). He’s won four conference titles. He’s coaching his own damn son!

And then McLaughlin chose to Fight On and my position was dissolved, the discussion continuing to pile on Alford and a far-from-grace-UCLA program. The opening line to the Los Angeles Times’ article on the commitment:

UCLA‘s drought in attracting top-rated talent at point guard continues.

Before ever breaking any news, the Times was already dumping along with everyone else.

But let’s, for a second, refrain from dogging the coach everyone loves to hate and recognize that the Battle for Los Angeles is on. Andy Enfield and all 41 of his career wins has waltzed into town and won the first battle. Competition begets success so how can we not see this as a possible tipping point for UCLA? Or at least the wake up call that never rang on Ben Howland’s phone?

Alas, this should be more about kudos to Enfield and staff. They have their first major piece of the Galen Dunk Center:

And while it’s beyond evident that the UCLA job is a coveted gig, it is by no means an easy one. This Trojan splash serves as exhibit A that it’s only getting tougher.

I played devil’s advocate in ranking the Pac-12 coaches because Steve Alford is a good coach. I applaud Andy Enfield’s first recruiting success – a coups if you’re willing to accept that LA is Alford’s to lose – because it’s a great pick up.

But to cite this as Alford’s ineptitude is premature. He’s no doubt got a battle on his hands but maybe we see how this thing plays out? Or at least for a little more than 5 months?

After all, UCLA’s next coach needs to fail in Boston first, right?