McLaughlin Follows in Collison's Footsteps

Jordan McLaughlin

One of the nation's top 2014 point guard prospects, Jordan McLaughlin, is the second once-in-a-lifetime type of talent to come out of Etiwanda High School...

In 2005, Etiwanda (Calif.) head coach Dave Kleckner enjoyed a 31-2 season thanks to senior point guard Darren Collison, a four-star prospect who signed with UCLA.

After a successful four-year career with the Bruins, Collison was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2009 and in his fourth year in the league, he's averaging 12.3 points and 5.9 assists in over 30 minutes a game with the Dallas Mavericks.

The majority of high school coaches will never get the opportunity to mentor a player like Collison, but less than a decade later and Kleckner has another big time point guard prospect.

Etiwanda junior Jordan McLaughlin is a 6-foot, 170-pound point guard ranked 20th in Scout.com's 2014 recruiting class.

Every year that Kleckner has coached McLaughlin, he's gotten a little better, to the point where he's now widely considered to be an elite prospect.

You won't hear many arguments from Kleckner.

"He's one of a kind," Kleckner said. "Young men like this don't come around very often. There's just a handful of kids who are blessed with not only the talent but the character. He's an intelligent kid and does very well in the classroom. He has a 3.8 GPA.

"He's polite, respectful, he's looked up to on campus by his peers and he's just an amazing young man. It's been a wonderful experience coaching him thus far."

No one has heard the comparisons between Collison and McLaughlin more than Kleckner, who feels that his junior point guard is well on pace to end up following his former player's successful footsteps.

"I think they're about at the same place at the same time," Kleckner said. "They've very similar players at this point. They both come from great families, they're both disciplined young men, they're competitive, they have integrity and character, they play hard, and most importantly they love the game of basketball.

"To them, a workout or practice isn't a chore, it's something they want to do with their time. They look forward to it because they know that hard work and effort will get them where they want to be eventually."

The differences in the two at the same point? Collison was a better defender, while McLaughlin might be better offensively.

"I think Darren was a little tougher on the defensive end and Jordan has this year and next year to develop more on the ball toughness defensively," said Kleckner.

"He does a wonderful job away from the ball with deflections, blocked shots and rebounds, he does a lot of good things for us defensively, but I think he could be a little bit tougher on the ball. Darren was a little tougher on the ball, but Jordan shoots the ball better than Darren did at this point."

There's been pretty consistent improvement in McLaughlin's game since first stepping foot on Etiwanda's campus, something Kleckner attributes to the five-star prospect's desire to get better.

"He's very coachable, he wants to continue to learn and when our coaching staff has some information to share with him, he just sucks it up like a sponge," he said. "I think that's why he keeps getting better and better. He's one of those kids that is going to keep improving."

With that improvement has come significant recruiting attention. McLaughlin has become a priority type recruit for many West Coast schools and that list is expanding further east.

There's almost a consensus on which schools are recruiting McLaughlin the hardest. McLaughlin and Kleckner both independently listed USC, UCLA, Arizona, San Diego State, Stanford and Indiana, while Kleckner also named Kansas to that list.

McLaughlin says - and his coach agrees - that he's not leaning in any direction right now.

"There's nobody standing out right now," McLaughlin said. "I'm being recruited by a lot of good programs and they're all equal so I'm just waiting it out."

"His mind is wide open," added Kleckner. "I think he's a loyal person and those people that have been recruiting him for over a year now, he has a lot of respect and appreciation for that, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of someone else coming in and him taking an interest in them."

Even though McLaughlin says he's wide open and not overly concerned with his recruitment right now, he is starting to learn about some of the schools involved.

"The new arena at UCLA is really nice and coach (Ben) Howland is a good coach. They produce a lot of point guards," McLaughlin said. "Kevin O'Neill is a good coach and the Galen Center is one of the best arenas out here."

"I've visited Arizona and it was pretty good. The atmosphere was nice, the school was nice and it was a good trip. The atmosphere at San Diego State is crazy. I love The Show and they put on a good show. It's a good atmosphere.

"I like that Stanford is a good academic school, they have a good basketball program and coach Johnny Dawkins is a good coach."

Many following this recruitment believe that McLaughlin will ultimately stay in Southern California - or, at the least, the West Coast - but that's something refuted by the parties involved.

"Geographically right now I'm wide open to anybody," said McLaughlin.

"I don't think he's a kid that is afraid to leave home, that wouldn't be an issue," says Kleckner.

What might McLaughlin be looking for in a school? His coach has given him some advice.

"Like I told him, you want to go to a program where you're confident about the coaches and what they see for you down the road in the future and how you're going to fit in to the program with the style of play," Kleckner said.

"Also, when you get to make your visits coming up here in January, that you connect and bond with the kids in the program. Most importantly that he goes somewhere that he enjoys himself and has fun because they're all great programs.

"I am sure he has aspirations to get to the pros and he can get that done at all of the schools that are recruiting him."

The list of schools recruiting McLaughlin is only increasing and this doesn't look to be a recruitment that is going to end any time soon.

"I'm still a long way away," says McLaughlin. "I have a lot of time and I'm going to utilize it. I might wait it out until my senior year."


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