Some players are made for All-Star games, some players just aren’t.
As I watched Melo Trimble, the Terps 2014 point guard of the future and McDonald’s All-American, at the Capital Classic last weekend, I got the distinct feeling that this wasn’t his area of expertise. Trimble’s game isn’t predicated on flashy dunks, spin moves in the lane, or no-look passes to guys rising up for alley-oop jams. A lot of it is based on intangibles; steady play, court command, consistency, a great feel for where players are. Not the kind of things that All-Star games really showcase.
Trimble was still effective, finishing with a respectable 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting (to go along with 5 assists and 4 steals), but calling him the most dominant player on the court is hyperbole. Trimble simply managed the offense most of the time during his 18 minutes of floor time for the Capital All-Stars.
“It was good,” Trimble said about his experience in the event. “It was an All-Star game. Not too much to expect out of me, and I’m not really an all-star player but I came out here and played hard still.”
It isn’t that Trimble doesn’t have the talent to belong at these All-Star games; you don’t average 23 points per game and score a school-record 47 points in a game without knowing how to turn on the jets. Trimble has a stroke from deep that scouts rave about and an ability to get to the hoop that allows him to excel at both guard positions.
But Trimble is a visible leader. More than that, he’s an on-court commander. Whenever Trimble is the point man on the court, he dictates how the game will be played. The ability to play with pace is one that you cannot teach many guards; you set the tempo of the game, and never play another speed. Trimble has that quality. If he sees a fast break opportunity, he goes for it, but rarely does it ever feel forced. It’s those attribute that he brings to Maryland which will really help a team that needs a steady court presence with a commanding personality the most.
And for Trimble, he just never feels too out of place or overwhelmed with the competition. Despite being one of the less heralded prospects at the McDonald’s All-American game, Trimble was still given high praise by a lot of the analysts in attendance. But better still was his recognition that, if he wanted to compete with the top dogs, he was going to have to work for it.
“Playing against them in front of NBA scouts showed me how to really compete hard in practice and go hard every play,” said Trimble of his time at the McDonald’s All-American event. “When I went out there the first day I was nervous, I didn’t think I belonged. But I came out the second day and just played regularly, and it was good.”
Maryland hasn’t had an All-American in a long time, not since Mike Jones back in 2003. Jones helped lead the Terps to two NCAA tournament appearances during his four years in College Park. Perhaps having that savvy, that attitude and solid work ethic on the court for the Terps is what could lead them back to the tournament. If Trimble has anything to do with it, he’ll likely impart that knowledge on other teammates with some tough love.
“Beating him up in practice, you know, going at him every practice,” Trimble joked when I asked about how he and fellow recruit Jared Nickens will mesh with one another.
“I’m gonna help him improve.”
(Side note: when I asked who would win one-on-one, Trimble said assuredly: “Of course, me.”)
Even with Nickens laughing in the background (literally), you could tell Trimble meant every word of it. Which is why it’s important to get someone with that kind of leadership on campus right away, to get something consistent into a constantly changing roster as soon as possible.
“Cant wait to start, June 2nd,” Trimble said on the matter.
A lot is going to be asked of Trimble right away, too, and he’s going to have to work to wrest that starting point guard spot from Seth Allen. Right now, his handle isn’t where it needs to be to play point guard at the next level without a good amount of mistakes, and he has to go after it a lot harder on the defensive end. Those are things, by his own admission, he needs to work on. But learning on the fly isn’t an unreasonable request for a point guard anymore; we saw Tyler Ennis at Syracuse excel in very short order. Trimble will need to follow that same trend, along with pushing some of his other, younger teammates to the same level of excellence he should demand day in and day out.
To his credit, Trimble seems to be unfazed by the prospect of starting things earlier than perhaps initially expected. The transfers that occurred in the offseason were no big deal for him, just another opportunity.
“It actually opened up a lot of playing time for the me and the other recruits coming in,” Trimble said on the matter, “and we are gonna really show people what we can do.”
For Trimble it seems like a guarantee, even if it isn’t flashy, and Maryland needs that kind of assurance right now.