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Maryland star Melo Trimble continues his evolution as youngest member of U.S. Pan Am team

Much has changed for Maryland point guard Melo Trimble over the past year.

The once-beefy body that led to Trimble being kiddingly called "Doughboy" shortly after he arrived in College Park is now buff. The mentality of being much more of a scorer than passer is finding the proper balance.

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About the only constant is his personality.

After a freshman season in which he was named first-team all-Big Ten Conference by the media, during a summer that has seen Trimble get a coveted invitation to NBA MVP Steph Curry's camp and earn a spot on the U.S. team competing in the Pan American Games, Trimble is still something of a flat liner.

"I'm more excited about all of it than he is," his mother, Kim, said Sunday. "He's still the same Melo. He's just so mellow about everything. That's nothing new. He definitely has the right name."

A little more than a year after trying to prove he was worthy of the hype as Maryland's first McDonald's All-American since Mike Jones in 2003, Trimble is keeping more heady company these days. In the parlance of millennials, Trimble has blown up.

Considered one of the favorites to be preseason Big Ten player of the year, recently mentioned as a potential national player of the year candidate, the 20-year-old Trimble was the youngest to make the U.S. team that will open Tuesday in Toronto against Venezuela.

Trimble understands how different things are now this summer compared to a year ago.

"Last year I was at school working with my team just trying to get ready for college, now with one year under my belt, I'm learning things from guys who've played in the NBA to take back to Maryland and be a leader," Trimble said in a telephone interview last week.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who assisted Gonzaga's Mark Few and his Pan Am staff during the team's tryouts in Colorado Springs, saw a similar progression for Trimble to what transpired last season.

Trimble went from following the lead of former Maryland star Dez Wells to taking over after Wells got hurt early in the season to sharing the spotlight with Wells after the senior guard returned for Big Ten play to helping lead the Terps to a 28-7 season and back into the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years.

"There were a lot of guys [in Colorado Springs] getting used to each other, not trying to step on anyone's toes," Turgeon said Monday. "I knew once a system was in, he would really shine and from what I'm hearing he's practiced well going into the game tomorrow night."

Turgeon said Trimble is making a "natural progression" from a scoring guard who can play the point to more of a true point guard who has "mastered controlling the game" and "making the right decision when he gets in the paint."

Trimble knows with the departure of Wells and three others, there is something of a leadership void going into a season in which the Terps are expected to be one of the top teams in the country. Trimble, senior forward Jake Layman and transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon are expected to share that role.

Given his position as the point guard, it will start with Trimble.

"I'm used to being that quiet person, a guy that doesn't make a lot of noise. I'm going to do things and get noticed by my actions," said Trimble, who as a freshman led Maryland in scoring (16.2) and assists (3.0) per game and was one of the nation's most prolific free throw shooters. "I think I have to become a more vocal person and step up to the plate [with leadership]."

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Said Turgeon: "This experience with the Pan Am team is really great because he's around some pro players that really communicate, who'll teach him a lot about communication and leadership and work habits and what it takes to be successful."

Layman, who can be just as quiet as Trimble, has already noticed a difference in the pickup games the team played this summer at Xfinity Center, as well as during the workouts in the weight room.

"You can see it with his confidence, and in every part of his game," Layman said last week. "Him making the Pan Am team just really shows that."

The experience trying out for — and ultimately making — the 12-man roster for the Pan Am Games has also helped Trimble's confidence. He beat out more experienced college stars such as Fred VanVleet of Wichita State for a spot. Trimble said he expects to back up 30-year-old Bobby Brown, a former Cal State Fullerton star who now plays in China.

"I think the first two days of tryouts I was nervous because I was playing with a group of guys that were older, [some] pros," Trimble said of a team that also includes 35-year-old Damien Wilkins. "The spacing [on the court] is different. Things surprised me by how open I was and I wasn't taking advantage of it.

"As the week went on, my teammates encouraged me to score more and be more aggressive. Once I started doing that, things started opening up for me and I started feeling good about myself and got better each day."

It is a continuation of the condensed education he received at Curry's camp.

Curry is now considered among the best players in the world. But Trimble is quite familiar with the path Curry took after being snubbed by major college recruiters and going to Davidson, then being passed over by a number of NBA teams — most notably the Minnesota Timberwolves, who took point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the fifth and sixth picks — before falling to the Golden State Warriors at No. 7 in the 2009 draft.

"Pretty much when I went out there, I learned how he works so hard in the gym, even in the middle of the night," said Trimble, one of four college point guards invited to the four-day camp in California. "I took a lot from him when I went out there. I thought I worked out a lot, but after seeing the things he does on and off the court, I don't think I work out enough."

Trimble, who is being projected anywhere from a lottery pick to an early second round pick in next year's NBA draft, saw that he was recently touted by ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz, who said the Maryland star's inclusion on the Pan Am team could be "a launching pad to potentially be the national player of the year next season."

Trimble, whose weight dropped from 202 pounds to 185 while his body fat was cut from around 16 percent to eight percent during his first year at Maryland, said that he used the training at altitude in Colorado to keep up with the conditioning sessions he is missing in College Park.

Asked about being mentioned among the country's best college players, Trimble said, "It's not going to just happen, I've got to go out and work for it. There are other players out there who are trying to get the same things I'm going to get. I know I have to put time in the gym and get better, just like everyone else."

His trip to Canada — marking the first time Trimble has been out of the country — should help him once he returns to College Park.

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"Just being a leader, and being a better point guard than I am now," he said. "I'm learning a lot from these guys and once I get back, I can give the guys some of my knowledge and just continue to get better."

Turgeon is looking forward to seeing the kind of player Trimble is when he gets back on campus in a couple of weeks.

"This will help him playing on this team, where he is not necessarily 'the guy,' where he has to be more of a point guard for them," Turgeon said. "It's just all part of a learning process. I've always thought he was more of a point guard because he has a great feel for the game and I think we'll see a great evolution in his game this year."

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