Ask Melo Trimble when he started following Maryland basketball and why he developed such an affinity for the Terps and you’re likely to get a lengthy list of reasons from the four-star combo guard.
“I’ve been watching Maryland most of my life,” said Trimble, an Upper Marlboro native. “Of course [I remember] when they won [the national] championship with Juan Dixon and Steve Blake. … I always watched them as a kid. I heard about Len Bias and the other players. … When I went to games [at Comcast Center], it gave me chills and I wasn’t even playing. I could just imagine myself playing in the arena. … [I was just] waiting for that offer.”
Trimble, a 6-foot-2 ½, 180-pound junior at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, Va., landed that coveted scholarship in August after a successful summer on the AAU circuit with D.C. Assault. This morning, Trimble made what he called a “no-brainer” decision by announcing his commitment to the Terps.
“Maryland was always my dream school,” said Trimble, who picked the Terps over Cincinnati and Rutgers. “I wanted to stick with my family. They definitely wanted me to stay home.”
Trimble has been a household name among D.C. basketball followers since joining the varsity squad at O’Connell – a perennial Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powerhouse – as a freshman two years ago.
“I think initially the thing that really popped out was his strength in going to the basket,” said O’Connell coach Joe Wootten. “He has a knack for drawing contact, and a knack for finishing around the rim and drawing fouls. He’s probably about 6-2, but he’s used to playing in AAU and high school against bigger guys. He has a knack for how to finish. One thing that really stuck out right away when I started coaching him was his ability to listen and implement coaching. It really helped him get better.”
Despite leading the Knights in scoring as a ninth-grader, high-major programs weren’t quite sold on him as an undersized shooting guard. But once Trimble added ball-handling responsibilities and took over as O’Connell’s starting point guard, recruiting picked up considerably.
“He’s done a great job having that knack to know when to shoot and when to run the offense. That transition has been pretty seamless,” Wootten said. “He can really shoot the basketball. … He’s found that happy medium for getting guys involved and shooting the ball.”
Wootten said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has been to four O’Connell practices this year and has called him after every game. There was no doubt in Wootten’s mind that Trimble was a priority for the Terps.
Turgeon “would say ‘Melo’s my guy.’ You want to see … a guy go where he has wanted to go and have a head coach that’s excited about him,” Wootten said. “It’s just a win-win all the way around.”
It would have been easy for Trimble to commit to his childhood favorite as soon as he got the offer, but the future Terp wanted to take some time and learn more about his proposed role. Over the past three-plus months, Trimble strengthened his relationship with Turgeon and the rest of the Maryland staff, and became increasingly intrigued with the coaches’ plans for him.
“They told me I’m going to play the 1 and 2,” Trimble said. “One of my good friends, Roddy Peters, is going there. We’re very interchangeable. And so is Seth Allen. They think all three of us can play together.”
Brian Snow, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com, thinks that Trimble and Peters can be complementary players in college. Snow said Trimble, who Scout.com ranks as the No. 57 player nationally in the 2014 class, stands out for his scoring but can absolutely be “a secondary ball-handler” at Maryland.
“Melo is more of a scorer; Roddy is more of a creator and distributor,” Snow said. “They both have kind of an old-man’s game. The fact that you can get two high-level local kids in your backcourt [is huge]. And neither Roddy nor Melo are one-and-done or two-and-done [players]. Things are going to be loaded in College Park in the backcourt for awhile.”
Trimble, who said he’s averaging around 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists this season, knows that he’ll be counted on now to help convince other 2014 prospects to take a closer look at Maryland. Selling a school he’s loved for most of his life to others shouldn’t be a problem. Trimble said he can’t wait to get started.
“[I] just [want] to make the best out of my opportunity to be there and just have fun,” he said. “I wanted to go to Maryland more than anywhere else. I still want to make the best out of it and become a better player.”