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Maryland's Melo Trimble knew this year would be his 'best chance' at the NBA Draft

Trimble has his eyes locked on the NBA, no matter the route it takes.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Northwestern vs Maryland Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Melo Trimble declared for the NBA Draft shortly after Maryland’s season, but he always knew he wouldn’t get to have his senior night.

Tuesday on Glenn Clark Radio, Trimble revealed his mind was made up before the season started, letting him focus on enjoying his last season in College Park and maximizing his draft stock.

“I wanted to leave last year, so I put my name in for the draft, but things didn’t work out the way I wanted to,” Trimble said. “I knew that this year was going to be the best chance to put my name in the draft because I was healthy. Even things didn’t always go my way (this season), I still thought it was the best idea for me.”

Trimble’s not in the most recent mock draft on DraftExpress, but he got invited to the Draft Combine for the second straight year. He’s still answering questions about his size and the consistency of his jump shot, and that could lead to him going the D-League route. However, with the creation of two-way contracts, there are at least 60 more jobs available, so being the No. 90 prospect takes on a different meaning than in years past.

“A lot of people are saying I’m going straight to the D-League or overseas, but I look at it as a good thing for me to get better,” Trimble said. “Obviously [it would mean] I’m not ready, and I had an opportunity to get ready to hopefully have a chance to be in the NBA.”

Trimble said his decision to go pro never affected how he behaved as a teammate. He said he enjoyed getting to lead Maryland, after watching the baton get passed from Dez Wells to Jake Layman before him.

“For me to be able to lead the young guys and fight through adversity and just play basketball and not worry about what people are saying about you in the media and stuff like that ... that was a big thing for me,” Trimble said. “It was just special to see how they were able to grow throughout the year.”

Trimble will be joined at the combine by fellow Terp Justin Jackson, who quietly entered the draft after his freshman season. Jackson didn’t sign an agent, and though Trimble admits he hasn’t talked to Jackson much, he understands his situation. Trimble declared for the draft last year, the first that the NBA allowed underclassmen to enter the draft without representation and maintain their college eligibility.

“It’s a tough decision,” Trimble said. “Everyone wants to make it to the next level, of course, but when you still have that option to come back it’s a great feeling. Whether you go through workouts and have a bad one, you know that you can still come back. He’s going to do well, he just has to prepare himself that if he wants to stay, that’s what he wants to do.”

Trimble and Jackson will be at the combine from May 9-14, and are also in the process of scheduling private interviews. Jackson isn’t projected to get drafted this year either, but is in early 2018 mock drafts. He’ll have until May 24 to decide to whether or not to return to school, but it’s pros or bust for Trimble.