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USC beats UCLA in recruiting battle over point guard Jordan McLaughlin

UCLA BruinsUSC TrojansAndy EnfieldSchoolsHigh SchoolsPacific-12 ConferenceStanford Cardinal

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

Jordan McLaughlin, a senior from Etiwanda High, announced Wednesday he has committed to accepting a scholarship from USC, choosing the Trojans over the Bruins.

McLaughlin is 6 feet with quickness and superior athleticism. He comes from the same high school basketball program that produced Darren Collison (UCLA, Clippers) and is known for getting its players to play tough defense. McLaughlin was a key contributor as Etiwanda won the Southern Section Division 1AA championship last season.

"It really caught my attention what they're trying to do with the new coaching staff," McLaughlin said of USC. "The coach wants to throw lob passes and get an up-tempo attack. … USC was the perfect fit."

His college choice marks a major triumph for first-year USC Coach Andy Enfield, who outdueled UCLA first-year Coach Steve Alford in the recruiting fight. It is an early sign that Enfield's decision to hire assistant coaches with Southern California connections is paying off. Tony Bland was hired from San Diego State and Jason Hart from Pepperdine.

It also continues a remarkable streak of UCLA failing to land or develop any top point guards since taking a commitment from Jerime Anderson of Anaheim Canyon High in September of 2006. Anderson was part of UCLA's 2008 recruiting class.

Among the guards UCLA either failed to land out of high school or decided not to pursue include Allen Crabbe (Los Angeles Price, California), Spencer Dinwiddie (Woodland Hills Taft, Colorado), Kendall Williams (Los Osos, New Mexico), London Perrantes (Encino Crespi, Virginia) and Larry Drew Jr. (Taft, North Carolina). Drew transferred to UCLA for his senior year.

UCLA's coaching staff is facing dwindling options from the Class of 2014. Parker Jackson-Cartwright of Los Angeles Loyola High turned down former UCLA coach Ben Howland and committed to Arizona. UCLA failed to make an offer to Robert Cartwright of Flintridge Prep, who committed to Stanford. Alford spent months recruiting Josh Perkins, a point guard from Huntington Prep in West Virginia, then backed off. Perkins committed to Gonzaga.

Now McLaughlin is off the board and set to enroll at USC, where he'll team up with former Santa Ana Mater Dei High guard Katin Reinhardt, a transfer from Nevada Las Vegas. UCLA is down to Quentin Snider, a point guard from Ballard (Ky.) High who is also considering Illinois.

Most worrisome for UCLA fans is the failure of Alford to lock down top players from Los Angeles. Stanley Johnson of Santa Ana Mater Dei, the top-rated prospect in the state, has USC, not UCLA, high on his list of possible destinations.

Enfield's reputation for an up-tempo offense at Florida Gulf Coast worked to his advantage in attracting McLaughlin. Alford's style remains relatively unknown locally, but he'll have the opportunity to change that with the coming college season.

How the Bruins fare could help them with some top point guards from the Class of 2015, such as Bellflower St. John Bosco's Tyler Dorsey and Campbell Hall's Aaron Holiday. And there's always the possibility that former St. John Bosco guard Isaac Hamilton ends up with the Bruins. He signed with Texas El Paso but has announced he will transfer to a Pac-12 Conference school after sitting out the upcoming season.

Loyola Coach Jamal Adams said Alford was doing a "great job" recruiting 7-foot center Thomas Welsh, who has an official visit with California this weekend and plans an official visit to UCLA.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATSondheimer

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