Recruiting rundown: Washington turns to hoops vagabond

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Washington fans wishing to get the lowdown on 6-6 shooting guard Mark McLaughlin of Tacoma Community College (Wash.) would be wise to ask fans of Washington State, Nevada, Baylor or Seattle. At one time McLaughin was either verbally committed, signed or played at the above-listed schools during a multi-year odyssey that included missing half his high school senior season, and playing at a prep school in New Hampshire.

College basketball coaches can’t help but take a chance on an elite talent like McLaughlin, even in the face of past issues. The Huskies, who recently suffered the NBA declaration of guards Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, have a decided scoring void opened up in next year’s backcourt that is itching to be filled. A talent like McLaughlin, who averaged 28 points per game this season, could do well in that role, with his act together.

It is seemingly now or never for McLaughlin, 22, and the reality is that his commitment could not have come at a better time for Washington. As one of only a handful of high-major schools without a commit for next year, Washington had struck out with the majority of its targets in the 2012 recruiting class.  The same thing largely happened in the 2011 recruiting class, beyond the home grown talent Wroten, and at least McLaughlin may help salvage this year’s effort if he lives up to his similar progress.

Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon also went the JUCO route for a mature guard, landing a commitment from Cloud City CC (Kan.) guard Devon Branch, a 6-5 prospect. The Ducks could issue Branch heavy minutes from an early time, with a similar hole to Washington in their backcourt. In stark contrast to the offensive prowess of McLaughlin, Branch is perhaps best known for his defense, which could set up an interesting match-up in Pac-12 play.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.