The Aztecs have gotten a commitment from Darrion Trammell, a guard out of Seattle University. Trammell is a high level point guard who averaged 17.3 points and 5 assists last season playing in the WAC. He will have two years of eligibility if he exercises his covid year.
Trammell measures in at 5’10”, 165 lbs. and immediately drew comparisons to Terrell Gomez. Those comparisons, like most comparisons made in basketball, were based soley on size and not on the actual games of the individuals. Trammell is his own player who has a lot to offer this Aztecs team.
What does Trammell bring defensively?
Usually when a player is 5’10 it’s a safe bet that they’ll be a liability on defense. Opponents can usually just shoot over the top and there’s no way to stop it.
In Trammell’s case, his defense may actually be his best attribute. He can be relentless on that side of the floor, hounding opposing ball handlers into making mistakes. He has quick feet and quick hands that let him stay in front and pick the ball handlers’ pocket. An opposing coach in the WAC commented that whoever Trammell was guarding my was not allowed to bring the ball up the court because it was too hard to cross the half court line.
Aztec fans are well aware of how good Lamont Butler is at causing turnovers, as evidenced by his 4.2% steal percentage, which was good for 27th in the nation last season. Trammell was one of the few players that was better, with a 4.3% steal percentage. Pairing those two together will be a nightmare for opposing coaches and players. The Aztecs have been great at forcing turnovers the last few years, and Trammell should only help them be even better.
Trammell has an attitude on the defensive side of the ball. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, like he knows he’s not supposed to be good at defense and is out to prove everyone wrong. At some point this season, opponents will try to post up Trammell with a bigger guard. They will learn quickly to not do that.
Trammell will push Lamont Butler for the title of best perimeter defender in the conference, which is saying something because Butler was arguably the most impactful defender in the conference last season.
What does Trammell bring offensively?
The first thing fans will notice when looking at Trammell’s stat sheet are the 17.3 points he scored per game. Another scorer will be beneficial for a team that lacked them last season. Trammell was largely a volume scorer at Seattle though. He scored a lot of points mostly because he had the ball in his hands a lot. He was not an efficient player, having an eFG% of 46.9% (50% is considered average.) Playing next to guys like Matt Bradley and Jaedon Ledee will severely reduce the shots Trammell takes. Hopefully having other players who can score will allow Trammell to take better shots and improve his efficiency. Somewhere between 8-10 points per game is a realistic goal for Trammell.
There are a few things offensively Trammell does really well though. He is a good ball handler and an excellent facilitator. He averaged five assists per game last season, and his assist percentage was good for 47th in the country. The Aztecs lacked a playmaker last season. Bradley was arguably the best playmaker the team had, but he was also best equipped to finish plays, so it wasn’t the best situation. Trammell should help take the ball out of Bradley’s hands and will create shots for everyone.
Over half of Trammell’s possessions last season came from the pick and roll, so he will fit right into the Aztecs offensive system as a point guard. Trammell excels at driving into the paint, drawing a double team, and then kicking out to a shooter. That skill was largely absent from the Aztec’s roster last season, but it’s the way coach Dutcher prefers to run offense. Having a point guard who can play drive and kick will be a hige boost.
Trammell’s best trait is his IQ. He makes the right decisions more often than not. He knows where all his teammates are and how to get them the ball. Despite being a ball dominant player he knows how to move and screen for teammates off ball. He understands the situation and how aggressive or conservative he should be. One very tangible way it shows up is with how many fouls Trammell draws. He knows how to manuever his defender, as well as the help defender, and then attacks the rim looking to finish through contact. He’s not great at finishing, but the 6.3 fouls he drew per 40 minutes last season were good for 28th in the country. And then Trammell is able to convert the foul shots at an 84% clip. While the style is drastically different, the result is similar to the impact Matt Mitchell had as a senior, as he also drew 6.3 fouls per 40 minutes, which would get him easy points and put the other team in foul trouble. Trammell will have the opportunity to have a similar impact.
Trammell is stylistically the exact type of player the team needed. He’s a dog on defense, and is comfortable operating in the pick and roll. Barring the addition of another high level guard, he will likely start at the point guard spot the upcoming season. His presence will help optimize Bradley, as Bradley will get easier looks when Trammell draws double teams. It will likely optimize Butler as well. Butler is best when he can catch and shoot, or attack a broken defense. Trammell will allow both of those to happen more frequently.
The concern for this season will be how Trammell adjusts to a higher level of competition. The Mountain West is tougher than the WAC, so it may take some time for Trammell to adjust. There will also be adjustments to role and play style. Trammell was the best player on his last team. With the Aztecs he can maybe make an argument for fourth best, and that might be generous. His role will change from “I need to do everything” to “I need to make Bradley and Ledee’s jobs as easy as possible.” He has the skill set to do it, but it might take time to get used to.
Overall, Trammell is a good addition who shores up a number of weaknesses from last season’s team (Ball handling, facilitating, free throw shooting, etc.)