After what transpired in Thursday’s NBA draft, Maryland guard Melo Trimble’s decision not to hire an agent is looking better than it did even back when he made it in April. His subsequent move to return to College Park for his junior year is looking pretty good as well.
Not only did two of Trimble’s former teammates who opted to forgo their remaining eligibility wind up either in the second round (Diamond Stone) or going undrafted (Robert Carter Jr.), but several point guards rated ahead of Trimble after last month’s NBA Combine went much lower than expected.
That Stone dropped from a potential lottery pick coming out of high school to a marginal first-round pick after his freshman year to No. 40 overall is a cautionary tale not only for Trimble, but for any college player thinking he is ready for the NBA but is not a lock to be a first-round pick.
While Stone seemingly has a good chance to make the Los Angeles Clippers and could wind up with as much guaranteed money if he signs a four-year deal for the NBA rookie minimum of around $500,000 than if he signed a two-year deal as a late first-round choice, the 6-11 center could have been in a much better situation had he returned to Maryland for his sophomore year.
Carter’s situation is different. Knowing that four-year college players have typically had a tougher time getting drafted, Carter’s status as a fifth-year player (after sitting out a year when he transferred) and having already turned 22 in April made his return to College Park a bit more uncertain when it came to the draft.
The 6-9 power forward reportedly turned down a chance to be drafted by either the Atlanta Hawks or the Denver Nuggets in the second round and sent to Europe for more seasoning and will take his chances trying to latch on as a free agent, after signing with the Golden State Warriors, according to reports. The Warriors could need front-court help next season and Carter could fit in the team’s “small-ball” mentality.
As for the point guards who had seemingly passed Trimble in the eyes of the NBA scouts, several wound up in the middle to bottom of the second round. Or not being drafted at all.
Former Seton Hall standout Isaiah Whitehead went No. 42 to the Brooklyn Nets. Former Notre Dame star Demetrius Jackson went from being a mid- to late first-round pick in most mock drafts to the Boston Celtics at No. 45. Kay Felder, one of the nation’s top scorers last season at little Oakland University, was traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 54. Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins, who helped the Sooners reach the Final Four, was the next-to-last pick, going to the Sacramento Kings at No. 59.
There’s no guarantee that Trimble will be picked even if he has a great junior year or even if he stays another two seasons. Evidence to that came when Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, one of the best point guards in recent Big Ten history, went undrafted Thursday along with teammate Troy Williams and fellow first-team All-Big Ten player Jarrod Uthoff of Iowa.
Yet Trimble can use the model of former teammate Jake Layman, whose decision to stay in school for his senior year proved to be fortuitous. Despite scoring less than he did as a junior, Layman improved on two of his perceived weaknesses – his inconsistent outside shooting and his defense – and was picked No. 47 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Trimble can also see what both Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine did by staying in school for four years. Though both players certainly have an advantage over Trimble because of their size and in Hield's case, his length, they turned themselves into NBA-ready commodities by either becoming one of the best all-around players in college basketball (Valentine) or its most dynamic shooter (Hield).
While some might make a case that Trimble made a mistake not coming out after having a much better freshman year than sophomore year, he will at least give himself a chance to grow up both as a player and a person.