While the move comes as expected for both, Trimble could still potentially return to school in May. The NCAA earlier this year introduced a new rule that allows players to test the draft process — which includes one workout with each NBA team as well as participating in the league’s draft combine in May — but still preserve their amateurism by not hiring an agent. Trimble would have until May 25 to decide whether to jump to the league or return to College Park.
“I am looking forward to taking advantage of this opportunity and entering my name in the NBA draft,” Trimble said in a statement. “I am excited that the new rules allow me the chance to go through this process.”
Maryland is in the midst of dealing with heavy roster attrition after finishing 27-9 last month and appearing in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 13 years. Not only is Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon faced with the task of replacing senior forward Jake Layman and senior shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, but also junior power forward Robert Carter Jr., who declared for the NBA draft on Thursday. Carter will hire an agent and doesn’t plan to return to school. Turgeon now must replace Stone, who arrived in College Park last summer as the most celebrated recruit in recent school history.
But Monday’s move was anticipated nonethless, given Stone’s overall upside and his production during his freshman season at Maryland. Stone proved to be ahead of the curve offensively, averaging 12.5 points while shooting 56.8 percent from the field. While he struggled at times on the defensive end early in the season and with his conditioning later in the year, the center also progressed enough as a complete player — he registered 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game — that it helped preserve his stock as a potential first-round pick in June’s NBA draft. Stone, who is considered Maryland’s highest-rated professional prospect, is currently slotted at No. 23 by Draft Express.
Stone has signed with Tandem Sports and Entertainment, which also represents NBA players Tim Duncan and Jeremy Lin, among others.
“I want to thank the University of Maryland and Coach Turgeon for an unbelievable experience this past year,” Stone said in the school’s release. “Coach Turgeon really pushed me to get better each and every day. My family and I spent a great deal of time discussing my future and we felt this was the best decision as I pursue my dream of playing professional basketball. I want to also thank all of the Terp fans and the students on campus who have been very supportive since the day I arrived to College Park. It means a great deal to me. I’ll always be a Terp for Life.”
Trimble was faced with a similar NBA draft decision last spring after a breakout freshman season, but he ultimately decided to return to school in part because he wanted to improve his professional stock as a sophomore. After being named the Big Ten preseason player of the year, Trimble had a string of brilliant moments throughout the first half of the season — he starred in wins over Georgetown and Connecticut, had one of his best career performances in a narrow loss to North Carolina in December and hit a game-winning three-pointer to beat Wisconsin in January.
But he struggled for much of the second half of the season, which was partly spurred by a lingering hamstring issue that flared up early in the Big Ten season. He endured the worst shooting slump of his career and struggled to replicate the kind of fluid offensive play that underscored his freshman season, especially at the foul line. After shooting 240 attempts as a freshman, Trimble took just 183 as a sophomore. He still finished with team highs in points (14.8), assists (5.0), free throw percentage (86.8) and steals (44), and he is only one of two players in school history to score 500 points or more in each of his first two seasons (Joe Smith). Trimble is currently projected as a second-round pick by NBA Draft Express, pegged as the 35th overall pick.
Should he choose to return to school for his junior season, he would be the cornerstone of a reshuffled roster thatmust replace four starters. Juniors Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens would likely be promoted to the starting lineup to replace Sulaimon and Layman, respectively, while Turgeon would rely heavily on centers Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky to anchor the front court.
Turgeon and his staff will also mine the graduate transfer wire, regardless of Trimble’s impending decision. While he would be able to polish his stock with another year in college, the 2017 draft is stocked with point guard talent. Trimble could also potentially work his way back into the first round with strong workouts and a productive showing at the NBA combine in May.
“Melo will go through the draft process, which will provide him a stronger understanding of where he could potentially be selected,” Turgeon said in a statement. “Melo has worked very hard, and we will continue to support and guide him throughout this process.”