Romelo Trimble committed to Maryland 475 days ago. At the time he was an under recruited shooting guard from Bishop O'Connell High School with offers from the likes of George Mason, UMASS and Temple. Over the next year we watched him grow as a player and prospect. The conclusion to the first chapter of that journey is today when he plays in the the McDonald's All American game in Chicago.
While his inclusion in this elite all-star game doesn't guarantee anything, it's a pretty good predictor of collegiate success as I examined a few months ago. About one third of the McDonald's All-American point guards since 2006 have turned out to be "program-changing" players and about 80% of the non-one-and-done's were impact players.
Trimble will likely be the back-up point guard on the East team in this year's game, behind Duke-commit and and the overall second ranked point guard Tyus Jones. They'll be joined in the back court by a stable of elite shooting guards: Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall), D'Angelo Russell (Ohio State) and James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana). All three B1G commits will be in the same back court together.
Where the East team really has the advantage is in the front court, with four top 12 overall players in Cliff Alexander (Kansas), Myles Turner (undeclared), Karl Towns Jr. (Kentucky), and Kevin Looney (UCLA). The wings are all Tobacco Road bound in North Carolina commits Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson alongside future Blue Devil Justise Winslow.
The West's point guards include the top ranked point guard in the class Emmanuel Mudiay (SMU), Joel Berry (UNC) and, one my favorite players in the class, 5-8 Tyler Ulis (Kentucky). Watch for Ulis to throw some of the fanciest, silliest passes you've ever seen and break a few ankles along the way. At shooting guard they'll have dunk contest champion Grayson Allen (Duke), former Maryland-target Rashad Vaughn (UNLV) and Devin Booker (Kentucky). High-flyers Stanley Johnson (Arizona) and Kelly Oubre (Kansas) will man the wing.
The star of the West front court is number one overall player and local Chicago product Jahlil Okafor (Duke). His matchup with fellow Chicagoan and East power forward Alexander will be among the most interesting things to watch in the game. The last time the two faced each other was in the Illinois state title game, a four-overtime thriller that ended on a buzzer beater. He'll play with Trey Lyles (Kentucky), Reid Travis (Stanford) and Thomas Welsh (UCLA).
My amateur guess at the East starting line-up is Jones-Whitehead-Jackson-Alexander-Turner. For the West I'll say Mudiay-Vaughn-Johnson-Lyles-Okafor.
The way the East roster is set up, expect Trimble get significant minutes running the show. I'd love to see him play with fellow B1G commit Blackmon because his game is similar to that of Terps commit Dion Wiley and maybe we can squint our eyes to see the future.
Trimble's used to being the best player, shooter, scorer, everything on his team, so it'll be interesting to see how he plays with a group of players on his level. For those fans that aren't yet convinced that he'll to play the point in college, tonight will be a good indication of his ability to distribute and run an offense. With the amount of elite scoring weapons and big men on the East, any point guard worth their salt would have a field day.
So far the reports out of the practices have been nothing but positive. Here are a few tweets:
Melo Trimble looking good today...good defense, knocking down shots from deep— AllMetroHoops (@ehoopsshowcase) April 1, 2014
Good practice so far for #Maryland signee Romelo Trimble. His pull-up jumper is always a high percentage shot; scoring in transition also.— Josh Gershon (@JoshGershon) April 1, 2014
Romero Trimble is having a good practice. Made a couple of threes, but also floaters. Playing well through contact.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 1, 2014
McDonald's AA practice. MT @RonMFlores 2nd east unit struggles with possessions if melo trimble not in. bunch of wings who don't facilitate.— Jeff Ermann (@insidemdsports) March 31, 2014
That last one's my favorite, because I can think of a team with a bunch of pretty good wings that struggle to facilitate which he might be able to help in the near future.
This event is a great opportunity for Trimble to announce his name to the world of college basketball. He's known in the DMV and by hardcore recruiting buffs, but not nationally like some of his teammates. Here's hoping some fans in Bloomington, Columbus, Ann Arbor and the like are watching and worrying tonight.
Here are some predictions:
Winner - East
MVP - Myles Turner
High scorer - Rashad Vaughn
Most assists - Tyus Jones
Most rebounds - Jahlil Okafor
Best dunk of the night - Cliff Alexander
Best block of the night - Jahlil Okafor
Has play that elicits the most "OHHHH"s - Tyler Ulis
Chucker of the game - Stanley Johnson
Most Duke player - Grayson Allen. Dude's soooo Duke.
Best human on the floor - Melo Trimble.