His NBA draft prospects in doubt, former Maryland star Melo Trimble remains confident

Melo Trimble has heard the doubters since high school, when, in his words, he barely made the list of McDonald's All Americans and then saw many question whether he was ready to make the jump to college as a true point guard.

When he announced in late March that he wasn't going to return for his senior year at Maryland, Trimble was well aware his name had long since disappeared from a majority of the mock drafts that predict which 60 players will be picked by NBA teams.

"I just want to get the opportunity," he said at the time. "If it's overseas, I'm with it. I just want somebody to give me a chance and be able to make something of myself. I've just got to work hard and not let anything affect me. Just stay confident."

That confidence has not waned in the nearly three months leading up to Thursday night's NBA draft, when Trimble will learn whether the three seasons he spent at Maryland and the more than dozen NBA teams he worked out for the past two years will be enough to get him drafted.

Considered a potential first-round pick after helping the Terps make a successful transition to the Big Ten as a freshman, Trimble now appears more likely to be a spectator than a participant in a draft that will be top-heavy with one-and-dones.

Markelle Fultz, who grew up not far from Trimble in Upper Marlboro, is expected to be the first player selected. The Philadelphia 76ers swapped first-round picks with the Boston Celtics to get the 6-foot-4 guard who spent a season at the University of Washington.

The first round is likely to be filled with players who left after their freshman year. In its most recent mock draft, DraftExpress.com has its first 10 selections as players who spent one year in college, while NBADraft.net has 10 of its first 11 selections listed as players who didn't return as sophomores.

It is something many believed Trimble should have done when he was named to the All-Big Ten first team as a freshman and led the Terps for the first of three straight seasons in scoring and to their first of three straight NCAA tournament appearances.

On the day he announced he was leaving after the 2016-17 season, Trimble said he was "more developed and more mature now" to make the jump now than he was then.

After a recent workout with the Charlotte Hornets, Trimble said he returned for his junior year after initially putting his name into the NBA draft to work on his leadership and passing skills. It was also to quiet the doubters who questioned his outside shooting.

"I told a lot of the teams that I interviewed with that I went back to be mentally tough and not worry about what people were saying about me, media or what others think of me," Trimble said in Charlotte after a June 14 workout. "It's just about within what I think of myself, the confidence that I have."

Trimble's stock began to fall when his 3-point shooting plummeted from 41.2 percent as a freshman to 31.5 percent as a sophomore. It didn't help that as a junior, after Trimble was moved to shooting guard, slumps early and late in the season resulted in his improving only to 31.7 percent.

Asked in Charlotte how different a player he is now than he was as a freshman, Trimble said: "I'm more of a point guard. I don't think anything changed about my game. I haven't made every shot that I take, of course. My percentage went down. That's a lot of what people talk about. But other than that, I'm the same player, plus my playmaking ability."

After his workout in Washington for the Wizards last month — one of nine he had this year with NBA teams, including three in a four-day stretch last week — Trimble said the biggest improvement he had made since going to Las Vegas to train was his shooting range.

"From the NBA 3-point range, it's a lot deeper," Trimble said. "Out in Vegas, I get up a lot of shots, just going against guys that are taller than me, different guys that I didn't play with this past year or since I've been at Maryland. It's just a different atmosphere out there with that group of guys."

Trimble worked out with former Oklahoma star Jawun Evans, former Oregon star Tyler Dorsey and L.J. Peak of Georgetown at Impact Sports, a training center run by Joe Abunassar that is geared toward developing NBA players. Evans and Dorsey are expected to be drafted.

Trimble reportedly had eye-popping numbers in some workouts, including hitting more than 60 percent of his 3-pointers in a 100-shot drill during his workout with the Chicago Bulls last month. The Hornets recently posted a video of Trimble hitting one 3-pointer after another in warmups.

While Trimble would be grateful to get a chance to play for any NBA team, a shot at backing up All-Star guard John Wall with the hometown Wizards was high on his wish list.

But that became unlikely Wednesday night when Washington, which doesn’t have a first-round choice, dealt its second-round pick, No. 52 overall, to the New Orleans Pelicans for point guard Tim Frazier, a Penn State alumnus who has has played for three teams in a five-year NBA career, averaging 6.2 points and 4.4 assists.

What Trimble has gone through since his breakthrough freshman season isn't much different from what he experienced in high school at Bishop O'Connell in Northern Virginia. Going into his junior year, future Maryland teammate Dion Wiley was considered a more highly rated prospect than Trimble.

"I've been doubted ever since I've been playing basketball," he said in April. "I was barely a McDonald's All American, I had to fight just to get ranked. I wasn't getting the looks I thought I should be getting. I just put it to the side and played basketball and proved everybody wrong when I got here. That's what I'm going to do again."

NOTES: The only other player with local ties who is considered a legitimate draft prospect is former Pittsburgh standout Jamel Artis, who played his first two high school years at Dunbar before finishing at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. As a senior at Pitt, the 6-7 Artis averaged career highs of 18.2 points and 3.3 assists while playing a good deal at point guard. Said one NBA scout who saw Artis work out, "One of the best things about him is his versatility."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
34°