Work Samples

Vaughan takes aim at NCAA tournament

January 3, 2008

By David Driver
Used with permission

Laurel High graduate John Vaughan, a junior redshirt guard at George Mason, averaged more than 11 points per game in his first 10 outings this season. Photo Courtesy George Mason University. College basketball

Marcus Hatten played college basketball at St. John's of the Big East Conference. He has played professionally in Europe for several years, and began this season in Italy.

Why should that matter to Laurel High graduate John Vaughan, a junior redshirt at George Mason University?

It matters because Hatten is Vaughan's first cousin on his mother's side of the family.Vaughan talks about once or twice a year with Hatten, who grew up in Baltimore and is following a path in his basketball career that Vaughan would like to follow.

"It is always a dream to continue playing basketball, be it overseas or the NBA or the D-league. Of course you have to aspire to play basketball and make money," Vaughan said. "But I think it is very important to live your college experience to the fullest. I feel like I am where I am supposed to be. I am having a lot of fun."

Vaughan, a 6- foot-3 guard, was injured (knee) and missed the entire 2005-06 season when Mason made its unlikely run to the Final Four.

"It was painful," he said of sitting out that season. "Once we got into the tournament I was happy and excited for the team, and the school. I was disappointed I wasn't able to play. It was kind of tough. When I look back on it, it was a learning experience. I saw the game from a different" angle.

Now Vaughan, who also played football at Laurel, is trying to make up for lost time. Vaughan scored a team- high 17 points earlier this season at Kent, and in the first 10 games he was third in the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and was playing more than 20 minutes per contest. Vaughan had 13 points and six assists Dec. 30 as Mason won at home over Liberty, 72-64. Mason improved to 9-3 overall, and Vaughan increased his scoring average to 12.0 points per game in the first 12 outings.

A year ago Mason advanced to the title game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Richmond, but lost to VCU in a game that decides the automatic bid to March Madness. Mason did not get an at-large bid, nor were the Patriots invited to the NIT field.

Vaughan, who turns 22 in early January, is motivated to get back to the NCAA tournament. "Not just for myself, but for the team and keep a tradition going. I want to get back and be a part of it, and hopefully we can finish it this time," he said.

Vaughan averaged 16 points per game as a sophomore in high school, and 21 per game as a junior. As a senior in 2003-04 he averaged 23.2 points, six rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.0 steals per game for the Spartans. He once scored 46 points in a high school game.

"He did the most with his talent than any kid I had," said Keith Coutreyer, the veteran Laurel High coach.

Mason assistant coach Chris Caputo, who saw Vaughan play in high school, said the Laurel grad has the chance to play as a pro.

"He can put the ball in the basket," Caputo said. "He is just a guy who can score in a number of different ways, and on top of that he is a good defender."