By Peter Hailey
Melo Trimble’s first name is a homophone for a word that means easygoing and relaxed. However, for the junior point guard with NBA aspirations, he can’t afford to be laid back in what’s shaping up to be a huge season, and one that will go a long way in determining his future.
Trimble averaged 16.2 points and three assists a night during a sterling freshman year for an upstart Maryland squad. The Upper Marlboro native also shot 41 percent from three-point range and asserted himself as one of the sport’s brightest young players.
The sense was, if he wanted to, the 6-foot-3 star could’ve made the leap to the Association right then and done quite well for himself, but he elected to return to College Park.
Because of those stats — as well as a much deeper roster — both Trimble and the Terps had much higher expectations last season, but things did not go nearly as well. No. 2 saw his scoring average, field-goal percentage and three-point accuracy all drop, with the latter two falling dramatically, as he and his teammates didn’t reach the success they were projected to have.
Near the end of his sophomore campaign, Trimble rarely flashed his trademark smile on the court. His shoulders sagged, and his highlights were few and far between. Perhaps the pressure of leading a star-studded team weighed on him, or maybe he was trying to do too much in hopes of impressing NBA scouts.
Whatever the reason was for his major regression, his pro stock was most adversely affected. Many major NBA sites left Trimble completely out of their mock drafts, and after testing the league’s waters and feeling how cold they were, he again opted to return to college.
All that has brought Trimble to this — a junior year with far reaching implications. A return to his freshman form would elevate him again in the minds of NBA talent evaluators. Another stagnant effort would keep him in the background, with the best-case scenario being a call in the second round.
Want one reason for optimism? Much like his first go-round at the university, the Terps will be more of a dark horse than a favorite once tipoff rolls around. That’s a role that he and his teammates relished back in 2014, and should lead to a less tense feeling surrounding the players.
Every day, when he walks throughout campus, Trimble is one of the most popular and recognizable faces around. Everyone knows him, and everyone thinks highly of him. But for those working on the next level, he’s still a relative unknown; he remains an undefined enigma.
He has just five months to change that. There’s no time to be mellow.