Most people didn’t think Melo Trimble would be here.
He didn’t, either.
After his freshman season, the Maryland guard looked like a surefire first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft, a standout scorer with a handle even Allen Iverson could respect. Two years later, he’s a fringe prospect, one of six to work out with the Hornets on Wednesday at the Spectrum Center.
“Unexpected,” Trimble said of his path. “It was unexpected in everything.”
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In 2014, Trimble signed with Maryland as the No. 35 player in the country. He burst onto the scene in his first year at College Park, scoring 16.2 points per game and earning All-Big Ten first-team honors. His Terrapins went 28-7 in their inaugural season in the Big Ten and made their first NCAA tournament in five years.
Maryland looked to be on the cusp of contention – and Trimble was staring at a first-round grade.
“I didn’t expect to have the year I had my freshman year,” he said.
Trimble came back for his sophomore season, hoping to build upon a breakout campaign. But he came back down to earth. His 3-point shooting – a selling point of his draft profile – cratered from 41.2 percent to 31.4 percent, and his scoring took a hit. The Terrapins (27-9) were handled by Kansas in a Sweet 16 loss.
Trimble flirted with the draft that offseason, but he didn’t get the feedback he had hoped for. So he came back for one more run, knowing he’d declare after his junior season. He’d grow as a point guard, become a leader on the court and block out the noise off of it – and then he’d get drafted.
Well, not exactly. Trimble saw a slight spike in scoring, aided by an increase in shots, but his 3-point shooting largely stagnated. So too did Maryland, which fell in the first round after a 24-9 season. Now, Trimble might fall from the draft entirely.
So here he is: a 6-2 point guard with a scorer’s mentality and an inconsistent resume. Trimble said the highlight of Wednesday’s workout was the 3-on-3 full-court scrimmage, where his playmaking abilities and vocal leadership were on full display. He’s more than just a one-on-one player, he says, but he knows how to work the pick-and-roll – a weapon he used to merit three straight All-Big Ten selections.
Trimble’s star shines brightest when he’s breaking ankles and hitting game winners, but he said he’s become mentally tougher and become more comfortable leading an offense as a facilitator.
“I’m more of a point guard,” Trimble said. “I don’t think anything has changed about my game.”
If he puts it altogether, he could become a solid backup guard to spell Hornets guard Kemba Walker – who, like Trimble, was a short scoring guard in college who developed into a passer.
But it’s hard to know what to expect from Trimble as a player. It always has been.
More second-round prospects
Wednesday’s workout had a distinct ACC flavor, with three players from the conference and another (Trimble) who missed out on Maryland’s ACC tenure by a year. All six players who worked out at the Spectrum Center project as second-round prospects, at best, but they could be interesting options for the Hornets should they slip past Charlotte at No. 41.
Much like Trimble, Xavier Rathan-Mayes’ name held the most cachet in 2015, when he averaged nearly 15 points per game as a freshman guard for Florida State. But Rathan-Mayes developed into a dependable passer during his three-year stint – averaging 4.5 assists for his career – and at 6-4, he’s a good defender who could become a versatile facilitator off the bench.
Jamel Artis, alongside Rathan-Mayes, was one of the better all-around players in the ACC last season. Artis scored 18.2 points per game for Pittsburgh last season, fifth-best in the conference, and he averaged 3.3 assists as a 6-7 “point forward” for the Panthers. He also shot 39.2 percent on 3s, something he says he could bring to a Hornets squad.
Wilmington native Elijah Wilson’s claim to fame is tying Michael Jordan for the most points in a game (42) in Laney High history. In four years at Coastal Carolina, Wilson averaged 13.4 points and shot 34.4 percent from 3-point range in his career with the Chanticleers. The 6-4 guard knows he’s unlikely to get drafted, but if he doesn’t get a chance in the NBA, he said he’s already been contacted about playing internationally.
Centers Sidy Djitte and Youssoupha Fall were both born in Dekar, Senegal, but they took very different paths to Wednesday’s workout. Djitte was seldom a scorer in his four years at Clemson, but the 6-10, 240-pound center was one of the top offensive rebounders in the ACC last season. Fall spent last year in a second-level French league, and he said he’s worked out with Hornets guard Nic Batum in the past. Fall doesn’t speak very much English, but his 7-4 frame says enough.
C Jackson Cowart: @CJacksonCowart