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Thanks to an NCAA rule change this season, underclassmen are allowed to declare early for the NBA draft, go through the evaluation process and then choose to go pro or return to school (if they haven’t signed with an agent). From now until May 25, which is decision day, SI will periodically weigh in on the most interesting decisions left to be made.
Season Review: Trimble led Maryland in points (14.8), assists (4.9) and steals (1.2) per game while playing the second-most minutes (32.8, behind only senior Rasheed Sulaimon’s 33.0) en route to earning all-Big Ten second-team honors. The sophomore point guard guided the Terrapins to their second consecutive season with at least 27 wins and an appearance in the Sweet 16, where they fell to No. 1 overall seed Kansas. He told ESPN’s Andy Katz on Friday that there was a 50-50 chance he’d return to school next season.
The Case for College: When Trimble elected last spring to return to College Park for his sophomore season, it was reasonable to think he would improve his draft stock while anchoring a team with legitimate national championship aspirations. Instead, Maryland never coalesced into a title-worthy squad, and Trimble’s draft stature stagnated. Whereas Trimble was considered a potential late first-round pick had he declared in 2015, he’s projected to be selected in the early part of the second round in 2016. (SI.com’s latest mock, covering only the first round, does not include Trimble). What happened this season? Trimble’s three-point shooting dipped, he didn’t get to the free-throw line as often and though he assisted on a higher percentage of his teammate’s baskets, his turnover rate hovered over 18%. By staying in school another year, Trimble could try to reverse those statistical declines and move his draft stock back to where it was at the end of last season. He showed flashes of superstardom as a freshman, but his 2015–16 campaign suggested perhaps he’s more aptly described as a “very good” rather than “great” player. As a junior, Trimble could prove he’s the latter and provide more evidence to NBA scouts that he can become a starting-caliber point guard at the next level. It's also worth pointing out that Trimble did not receive positive reviews from his performance at the NBA draft combine earlier this month.
The Case for the NBA: While Trimble may have come back to Maryland as a sophomore with the hope of making himself more appealing to NBA talent evaluators, he might have done the opposite. Were he to return for another season, as a junior, Trimble would risk further damaging his stock. At this point, Trimble still has one very strong season (2014–15) to support his case as a first-round pick. A second-consecutive underwhelming campaign could result in even more slippage on NBA teams’ draft boards. In addition, if Trimble decided to leave college after next season (2016–17), he would be inserting himself into the same pool as a potentially strong group of guards, including Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith and Washington’s Markelle Fultz. Also, Trimble would be a year older. Even though his most recent college season was weaker than the first, Trimble can try to repair his stock in workouts this year and benefit from a less talented crop of players at his position this year.
Big Board rankings: SI (top 30 only): Unranked; DraftExpress: No. 76; NBAdraft.net: No. 43
Final verdict: Trimble’s best option is to go because of the unlikelihood he will significantly improve his draft standing by returning for his junior year.