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Under Pressure: A Look At Melo Trimble's Decision To Return To Maryland

After going through the NBA Draft process, Maryland guard Melo Trimble decided to stay in school for his junior year. We take a look at how that was a smart decision for the young guard.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Back in January, the NCAA announced new rules that would allow college basketball players an opportunity to declare for the NBA Draft while still maintaining the college eligibility. As long as they didn't sign with an agent, players would have until May 25th (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine ended) to decide whether they want to stay in the Draft or head back to college. Players would have time to both work out at the Combine or in private workouts with individual NBA teams to get a good understanding of their draft stock.

One of the players that took advantage of those new rules was Maryland guard Melo Trimble. On an extremely deep Maryland team that featured a handful of potential NBA Draft prospects, Trimble was pegged as the team's main ball-handler. Trimble absolutely flourished in that role, as he became one of the better on-ball threats in college basketball. By working off Diamond Stone or Robert Carter II in the pick-and-roll, he showed a great sense of when to drive to the paint or dish it off to the big. Those abilities led Trimble to average 4.9 assists per game,  a solid improvement over the 3.0 assists per game that he averaged as a freshman.

That skill as a pick-and-roll guard is evident in the play below. Working off a Robert Carter screen, Trimble reigned the defense in by slowly working the left side of the basket. As he was getting closer to the rim, Trimble made a smooth dish to Robert Carter who made the open 3. Even when he's on the move and surrounded by heavy pressure, Trimble's able to make clean passes to open teammates, something that you can't say about many young guards.

Another advantage that Trimble has over most guards is how he's able to finish in traffic on drives to the hoop. With a quick first step, Trimble's easily able to drive past most college guards, which usually gives him a solid look at the rim. Even if there's traffic around the rim, Trimble does a great job of finishing as he's able to contort his body while his in mid-air. That athleticism allowed him to shoot 69% from around the rim,  a nice improvement over the 56% from his freshman year.

Where Trimble's NBA Draft stock ultimately fell off was due to two reasons: An extremely inconsistent jumper and a small physical build. After shooting 41% from beyond the arc during his freshman season, Trimble's perimeter shooting really fell a cliff as he shot an inconsistent 31% during his sophomore year. While some of that may have been due to his increased offensive role, there was a real two-three month span during the middle of the Big Ten season where he just couldn't hit shots, whether they'd be mid-range or perimeter.

During that Big Ten season, Trimble shot a horrendous 37% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc. That huge inconsistency is made especially bad by Trimble having 5.8 three-point attempts per game, which created a ton of wasted possessions throughout the season.

Trimble has a smaller frame even for a point guard. Despite being 6'3,  an acceptable height for a point guard, Trimble's 6'2 wingspan isn't adequate for a league that really values length. That could especially become a problem on the defensive end, as Trimble would have little to no flexibility on being to able to guard multiple position. His length could still be an issue when he's asked to defend point guards, as there are some bigger guards that would be able to easily drive and score on Trimble's smaller frame. While his size could be an issue on defense, Trimble's really pesky, especially when it comes to working in the passing lanes. Averaging 1.3 steals per game, which put Trimble 10th among Big Ten players.

Those issues were well displayed during the NBA Draft Combine, as Trimble struggled to match up against Gary Payton Jr and Kahlil Felder. During the two scrimmages, Trimble seemed non-existant as he averaged 7.5 points and 3 assists per game on 33% from the field. Those struggles were definitely worrisome for Trimble's draft stock as both Payton Jr and Felder were projected as fellow mid-2nd round picks that likely overtook him with their solid performances

That Combine performance was probably the nail in the coffin of Trimble as a 2016 draft prospect, as he announced on May 25th that he'd be returning to Maryland for his junior season. It's definitely a smart move for Trimble, as his draft stock took a huge tumble after that awful Combine performance. While Trimble's definitely a skilled player, he just looked flustered by guards (Felder and Payton) that were either bigger or just more experienced than he was.

As he looks towards the 2016-17 season, this will be Trimble's first real opportunity to be the leader of a team. While he was the main ball-handler on last year's squad, the entire Terrapins starting five featured players that all had their own NBA Draft aspirations. This upcoming season, Trimble will finally be the real focal point on a young squad with some good complementary pieces that would be able to work around him. Trimble fully grasping onto that opportunity and leading Maryland to success could see him in a much better position next year.