Sharpshooting sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin has been one of the biggest difference-makers for Purdue in her first two seasons. She was recently named First Team All-Big Ten following an award-filled freshman year.
“There are so many other people worthy of the award, and I am truly humbled,” McLaughlin said. “My team helped me get it so, in my opinion, it’s a team award, and I am just very thankful I got to be a part of it.”
During her first season as a Boilermaker, she received multiple awards and even broke some school records. She was named Big Ten All-Freshman, head coach Sharon Versyp’s fifth player to receive the award at Purdue since 2013.
“(McLaughlin) making first team was huge. Her numbers have increased exponentially across the board,” Versyp said. “She’s in the gym every single second, and she wants that honor but wants to be a great teammate as well.”
She was tied at seventh for most triple-doubles in the NCAA for freshmen. By the end of the season, she also broke the freshman 3-point record with 75 shots made. She even capitalized from the charity stripe where she shot over 90 percent that season.
She has followed up a successful freshman season with another great season this year. There were only three games where McLaughlin played less than 30 minutes. She is averaging 15.1 points per game which has showcased her offensive ability, an ability that has been what Purdue has turned to in most big moments, especially from behind the arc.
The sophomore’s career 3-point percentage sits at 38. The Boilermakers have been able to make great use of her deep-range game, which essentially won the game for Purdue against Northwestern. She played all 40 minutes, scored 28 points and made 9 of 11 attempts from deep. Her ninth 3-pointer came with under a second left to defeat Northwestern and prevent overtime in a desperately needed conference win for the team.
McLaughlin is an asset not only due to her shooting but also her passing. She is averaging 3.8 assists this season, which has helped spread the offense and open her up for more shots as well. She gives the offense a chance to pass the ball down low to junior forward Ae’Rianna Harris. Harris was recently named as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row thanks to her dominating post presence and ability to block shots.
“We knew (McLaughlin) would win something. She’s been showing out all year,” Harris said. “She’s always had her shot, but she’s grown into more as a player this year.”
On the opposite side of the ball, McLaughlin is a tough defender who can force turnovers. She has 29 steals so far this season after having 20 in her freshman year. Forcing the opposing team to turn the ball over has been a key for Purdue this season, and McLaughlin has been a leader in that regard.
Looking to make a splash in the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament, Purdue will most likely turn to McLaughlin’s leadership in big moments throughout the rest of the season.