Maryland point guard Melo Trimble isn’t the same player questioned by the NBA last summer. The bottom of the second round is no longer a likely scenario. The media didn’t scrutinize this player.
After a brilliant freshman outing and strong start to his sophomore season, Trimble battled through adversity. A hamstring injury slowed his production in the latter half of the 2015-16 campaign. He struggled during an exhibition game at the NBA combine, and his team lost by 40 points.
Several media outlets and NBA experts began to question Trimble’s ability to thrive at the next level. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Johnson called him good, not great.
“He showed flashes of superstardom as a freshman, but his 2015-16 campaign suggested he’s more aptly described as ‘very good,’ rather than a ‘great’ player,” Johnson said.
The Maryland junior may not be the same player who struggled at the latter part of last season, but he’s the same person. Like a sponge, Trimble absorbed everything around him during the first two seasons at Maryland. Now the leader of the 2016-17 Terps, feels more confident than ever, while constantly fine-tuning the minute details.
“When it’s your team, you really have to demand everything and be yourself,” Trimble told HEROsports.com. “I can’t try to be anyone I’m not. I can shoot, I can get to the rim on both sides, right and left hand. This year I’m focusing a lot more on defense, picking up the ball quicker, being more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball.”
Trimble’s attention to detail is paying major dividends.
After 12 games, the Maryland star ranks 33rd in the country in scoring with 212 points on the season. That’s higher than UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Kentucky’s Malik Monk and Washington’s Markelle Fultz, the top three point guard prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft.
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble has a consistent pregame ritual.
After the final team huddle before tip off, the Terrapins star takes the gum out of his mouth and sticks it under his chair. He’s superstitious and calculated. He never wavers from his routine.
This is Trimble. Every decision he makes is focused on bettering himself on the court. Last May, the Maryland point guard decided to return to College Park instead of entering the NBA Draft.
Why? He wanted to grow as a leader. He wanted to become a better defender. He knew the 2016-17 squad would be his to lead, and felt a responsibility to guide the Terps’ young roster.
“Melo is a winner,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told HEROsports.com. “He really embraced the leadership role this year. He knows this is his team.”
Trimble has always had a quiet, laid-back demeanor. He’s never going to be the player screaming at the top of his lungs after a heated play or when he sinks a big shot. After hitting the game-winning three pointer on the road at Wisconsin last season, Trimble simply grinned and looked toward his bench. There were no over-the-top antics. He waited calmly in the center of the court for his team to embrace him.
Now a junior, Trimble reflects on his freshman season, looking to the upperclassmen and seeking guidance.
“When I was a freshman, we had Dez Wells, he was a great leader in his own way,” Trimble said. “He could be aggressive but meant well by everything. For him, if he played bad, he was still a great leader. If he played good, still a great leader. I was able to learn a lot from Dez. I still talk to him and get advice on how to run a team that is mine now.”
On a roster with four new starters, Trimble is the only constant from last year’s Sweet 16 team. The young guys look up to him. It’s his responsibility to set the tone.
“Before, I wasn’t as much of a vocal leader as I am now,” Trimble said. “I would lead by example. As I’ve grown up and gotten more confident in myself, I’ve become more vocal. No one wants to be called out. I don’t want to be put in that awkward situation where I have to call someone out. It’s part of me being confident and everyone respecting me. It comes easy and natural after that.”
Murals of former Terps greats are plastered on the walls in the hallway lining the Xfinity Center. A Jacksonville State player pauses to take it all in after a 92-66 loss to Maryland Monday, but he doesn’t seem shaken or distraught.
Like a kid on Christmas morning, the player’s eyes light up scanning over the jumbo-sized photos. He grabs a teammate and points to a piece of the mural. “Man that guy was good,” the Jacksonville State player muttered. “Remember that shot in the tournament? That was sick.”
Trimble led Maryland with 23 points to help his team secure the victory over Jacksonville State that night, shooting 6-of-7 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point land. He was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free throw line. It was another terrific performance for Tremble.
There’s no doubt one day in the near future, photos of Trimble will join the already-notable collection of Maryland legends that includes Joe Smith, Juan Dixon and Steve Francis. After the Upper Marlboro, Maryland native has long left for the NBA, a mid-major player visiting Xfinity Center will undoubtedly stop and point to Trimble’s photo with admiration.
After 12 games, Trimble is averaging 17.7 points, good enough for No. 4 in the Big Ten. At the end of the month, Maryland will embark on a critical stretch of conference games.
Before the whistle is blown each night, Trimble will place his gum under the chair he is sitting in. His teammates will watch his every move, emulate his skill set and meet him in the middle of the court when he hits a game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
This is Trimble’s team.