GREENVILLE — For three seasons, Patrick McLaughlin Jr. orchestrated the offense for the Richmond Raiders. Now he’s the main point man for Pitt Community College’s basketball team.
A little more than halfway through his sophomore season, McLaughlin Jr. has grown into his role as the Bulldogs’ starting point guard.
McLaughlin Jr., who graduated from Richmond Senior High School in 2021, has enjoyed the transition to the college circuit the past two years.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the next level, but getting a chance to start this year is really special to me,” McLaughlin Jr. said. “It’s great to know that my coaches are able to see that I have the abilities to start at point guard.
“I’ve adjusted pretty well. College basketball is much more physical and I had to learn how to play with the shot clock and learn from different coaching styles. Another thing is that there’s always someone guarding me, either in man-to-man or full court press.”
Not only is McLaughlin Jr. finding success on the hardwood, he’s also excelling in the classroom. This past semester he had a 3.7 GPA and will graduate later this spring with his associate’s in arts degree.
Last month, McLaughlin Jr. had a homecoming when the Bulldogs traveled to Sandhills Community College in Moore County. The closest to home he’s played while in college, McLaughlin Jr. was overwhelmed with support.
Despite coming up short 89-87 to the Flyers, McLaughlin Jr. scored 17 points and went 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
“It felt good to be back closer to home since we didn’t play anywhere close last year,” McLaughlin Jr. said. “A bunch of my family and friends were there and it was great they were able to see me play.
“Having all of that support showed me that I had an impact on them and that they all wanted to spend some time out of their day to see me play. I was able to take pictures with a lot of them.”
This season, Pitt CC has registered a 10-7 overall record with a 6-4 mark against NJCAA Region 10 opponents. McLaughlin Jr. has been a big part of that success, starting 15 games and is one of four players to average double-digit points.
Fourth on the team in scoring with 10.2 points per game, McLaughlin Jr. has shot 28.3% from the field this season. Also an outside threat, he’s connected on 29.6% of his three-point attempts.
McLaughlin Jr. leads the Bulldogs from the line, hitting 79-of-111 free throws this season (71.2%). He also takes the most free throws per game with 6.5 attempts, and has averaged 3.7 assists per contest.
Netting 15+ points in five games this season, McLaughlin Jr. scored a career-high 23 points in an 88-83 win over Virginia Peninsula Community College on Nov. 12.
“I’ve learned a lot of patience and how to use it,” McLaughlin Jr. explained. “I had to get used to a new role of not starting and earning my minutes. I was patient and put in a lot of hard work.
“Skill wise, I’ve also learned how to use every possession carefully and how much each one counts. In college basketball, you can’t afford to waste any possessions.”
A three-year starter for Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew, McLaughlinJr. was also named to the All-Sandhills Athletic Conference team twice.
During his senior season, which was shortened due to the pandemic, McLaughlin Jr. played in 10 of RIchmond’s 13 games. He averaged 9.2 points per game, led the team with 4.3 assists per contest and averaged 3.0 boards per game.
Not forgetting his roots, McLaughlin Jr. still carries with him a lot of what he learned about basketball and life from his time with the Raiders.
“The key to my success has been staying focused and staying true to myself,” McLaughlin Jr. shared. “I haven’t tried fitting in with the wrong crowd and I’ve really stayed on the right path.
“Playing at Richmond, I learned to always play hard until there’s a zero on the clock. That’s helped me in college and I keep the mindset of competing every day no matter what.”
With 11 games still left in the regular season for the Bulldogs, McLaughlin Jr. is going to use that time to help keep his dream of playing college hoops alive.
He said there are “several” four-year universities showing interest in recruiting him, and that he’s looking forward to seeing that goal come to fruition.
“I want to continue working on all aspects of my game, especially being able to remain calm during intense moments in games,” McLaughlin Jr. closed. “Handling pressure is important.
“As a college student, I want to continue to get better with time management on and off the court.”
McLaughlin Jr. and Pitt CC will return to action on Saturday at Southwest Virginia Community College.