- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Seven games into his college career, Maryland guard Melo Trimble has exceeded the expectations that came with being ranked the 29th-best prospect in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN.

His 21.3 points, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game in four Terrapin wins last week moved the Big Ten to name him Co-Player and Freshman of the Week. Two of those victories came in the CBE Classic, a regular season tournament in Kansas City, where Trimble earned MVP honors. In the CBE Classic against Arizona State, he scored 31 points while shooting 63.6 percent from the field, 66.7 from 3-point range and 92.9 at the free-throw line.

This is elite efficiency that the Big Ten recognized with multiple awards, but Trimble is aiming even higher — as are the 21st-ranked Terrapins.

“It’s a good accomplishment, but I’m not going to stop here,” he said. “I want to keep getting better and just keep winning.”

Trimble will face his stiffest challenge yet Wednesday night against No. 7 Virginia, which will be out for revenge following its 75-69 overtime defeat last season to the Terrapins in their ACC finale. The Cavaliers boast the best scoring defense in the country, allowing just 44.6 points per game en route to their 7-0 start. They surrendered just 26 points on Monday against Rutgers.



“[Trimble will] be tested,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “[The Cavaliers] have length at their guard position. He may only get to the basket some. It’s hard to get to the basket against Virginia, but he’s a pretty good shooter too.”

Trimble, 6-foot-2, won’t have a height advantage against Virginia’s top guards, 6-6 Justin Anderson and 6-5 Malcolm Brogdon. But if their length causes Trimble problems attacking the rim, his efficiency from 3-point territory will come in handy. On the season, he’s nailed 15 of his 31 attempts (48.4 percent) from beyond the arc, best on the team.

However, if Trimble doesn’t equal his recent scoring totals against Virginia, his team still expects him to leave his imprint on the game.

Melo does so many other things well — runs our offense, gets me open shots, defends,” junior swingman Jake Layman said.

Trimble not only leads the team in scoring, but he’s also second in assists behind only senior swingman Dez Wells, who will be sidelined for at least four weeks with a broken wrist.

Despite the absence of Wells — the Terrapins’ best player — in their last two games, they remain undefeated at 7-0. And much of their success is thanks to Trimble’s ability to pick up the scoring load and involve his teammates, which is why Turgeon is confident in the freshman’s ability to adjust to Virginia’s stout defense.

Melo will figure it out,” Turgeon said. “We have good players around him. He’ll figure it out as the game goes on, whether it’s scoring or assisting or defending. He usually figures out how to help our team be successful.”

Tremble’s coach at Bishop O’Connell High School, Joe Wootten, raved about Trimble’s growth as a floor general, as opposed to just a scorer. Trimble moved from shooting guard to point guard his junior year at Bishop O’Connell, and his development showed last week against No. 13 Iowa State.

After dropping 31 points the evening before against Arizona State, Trimble just took what the Cyclones gave to him. He found a way to make a different impact by controlling the tempo and playmaking, and he dished out three assists.

“[Trimble] just made sure that running the team was the most important thing to him, which I thought was great,” Wootten said. “He didn’t come in to try and score another 31. He just made sure that the team was running smooth, and I think that really helped Maryland be successful.”

The performance explains why Trimble said prior to Wednesday’s game that, in spite of Wells’ injury, in spite of the Cavaliers’ top defense, he feels no extra pressure to carry more of Maryland’s scoring load. And Wootten thinks this is exactly what has made Trimble’s transition to college basketball so seamless.

“I think that he’s got that signature poise,” Wootten said. “He does such a great job of just letting the game come to him and he’s got a lot of confidence in his game, but I think his poise really allows him to play beyond his years.”

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