Jaylen Brantley is in for a new experience this year. Maryland's sophomore backup point guard transferred to College Park this season from junior college in Odessa, Tex., and now he's an immediate rotation player on the No. 3 team in the country.
Melo Trimble is Maryland's biggest star, but he's not going to play all 40 minutes every night. In spurts, the role of running Maryland's offense will fall to Brantley, which makes him an important figure if Maryland wants to advance deep into postseason play.
At Maryland's media day on Oct. 20, I talked with Brantley for just a few minutes about his adjustment to Maryland and the season ahead. Our conversation is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Testudo Times: A few months ago, you tweeted something I thought was pretty good. You said, 'I'm just so happy to be at this school and be a part of this team,' or something like that, and you were so happy about it.
Honestly woke up this morning feeling blessed and happy to be where I am today. Love my school— Jaylen Brantley (@Jaybrant2) June 15, 2015
Why are you so happy to be a Maryland Terrapin?
Jaylen Brantley: It's a great institution, a great place to be with my teammates and brothers. The coaching staff is great, I think. Everybody just embraces themselves as a family, and it's really nice to be around.
TT: Last year, one of the things Maryland didn't have was a second point guard, really, for most of the year, behind Melo. Now, that's you. What do you see your role as being with him also on the roster?
Brantley: I think my role is definitely just to come and get everybody better every day, get everybody involved. That's really what I try to do in practice – get everybody involved, be the second leader and just have everyone respect me just as much as they do him.
TT: Coming from JC, what's the adjustment been like off the court, just being at this place?
Brantley: Academics, definitely. The academics here are really tough. I feel like it's going to help me in the real world, but the academics, definitely, are the main part that's different off the court.
TT: A lot of people think very highly of Melo. What do you think you can learn from playing alongside him and watching him this year?
Brantley: Definitely his humbleness. Like you just said, everybody saying everything about him, I think he embraces it, but he's really humble about it, and he still works hard. Melo is probably one of the hardest-working people I've ever seen, so definitely getting that from him and seeing where he's going, everything he's getting, the hard work he's put in – definitely makes me want to do the same thing.