If you’re talking height, Seattle University men’s basketball guard Darrion Trammell ranks last in the Western Athletic Conference.
But if you’re talking scoring average, the 5-foot-9 sophomore guard ranks first in the WAC, and this past weekend became the third WAC player in the past eight years to score at least 30 points in two straight conference games.
No longer, of course, is there any doubt that Trammell can compete in Division I basketball, proving to others what he knew all along.
Trammell leads Seattle U (8-7, 1-2 WAC) into a pair of home games this weekend against New Mexico State (4-4, 1-3), which has won three straight regular-season conference titles. He leads the WAC in scoring (19.7 points per game), is tied for first in assists (5.7) and is first in steals (2.1).
It’s hard to believe now that Trammell had no Division I offers out of high school despite being two-time all-league player at St. Ignatius in San Francisco. That he was 5-7 certainly worked against him.
“I think that was a big reason for it,” Trammell said about the lack of scholarship offers.
So Trammell elected to play a year at Golden State Prep in Oakland, which advertises itself as an “environment for student-athletes who want an additional ‘gap’ year to develop their basketball skills, mentality, and body in order to be best prepared for college basketball.”
Trammell grew 2 inches during the year, and his game grew as well.
“It was eye-opening for me and humbling for me,” Trammell said. “I was playing with guys better than and younger than me, and I knew I had to work harder. I already had the motivation — because of the countless years where I didn’t get the recognition that I thought I deserved — but that made me even hungrier.”
Trammell then spent a memorable season at City College of San Francisco. As the starting point guard, he led the Rams to a 30-0 record. It didn’t go unnoticed by Seattle U coach Jim Hayford, and he successfully recruited Trammell, and two of his teammates, Emeka Udenyi and Nate Robinson.
One of Hayford’s recruiting pitches to Trammell was how the lead guard in the coach’s offense puts up big numbers year after year.
“(Hayford) let me know he thought I could thrive in his offense,” Trammell said. “That was a big thing for me.”
Indeed he has, even if it hasn’t been as easy as it might seem based on his numbers.
“It was definitely a transition,” he said. “A lot of tough practices and a lot of tough mistakes, but it was just growing pains. Eventually I got through it.”
Seattle U lost its WAC opener in overtime to Utah Valley, 93-92, then lost 77-76 at Dixie State last weekend before easily beating Dixie State the next night 77-56 behind Trammell’s second straight 30-point game.
The Redhawks last weekend were without Riley Grigsby, who was the WAC’s leading scorer at the time, with an undisclosed injury. He is expected back for the games against New Mexico State.
“I felt like I had to contribute more than I normally do, as far as being a leader and scoring, and just doing everything a little more because we were missing him,” Trammell said.
Trammell believes the Redhawks “have a special team and (are) very close to being the best team in the league.”
“It’s just a couple of little things we’ve got to clean up, but we’re right there,” said Trammell, who had never scored 30 points in consecutive games before, but once had 30 and then 29 in high school.
As far as being in elite company in the WAC with the consecutive 30-point games: “It feels good, but I had a lot of turnovers in those games (15 total), so that’s the thing that is really bugging me,” he said. “That is outweighing the 30 points for me.”
Hayford loves the work ethic of his sophomore guard, who loves to cook and was once a yo-yo whiz who “still has a couple tricks left in me.”
“The greatest thing about Darrion is that he showed up here without an ego, without expectation, and he just said, ‘I’ll be as hard a worker as you can find,'” Hayford said.
For the first few games, Trammell came off the bench, until it became clear to Hayford “that he’s capable of playing all 40 minutes.”
Perhaps Trammell’s best game was Dec. 30 in an 84-68 win over Portland, when he had 25 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, two steals and just two turnovers.
The five rebounds were not an anomaly. He averages 4.7 a game, third on the team, despite almost always being the smallest person on the court.
Hayford has had a lot of great guards over the years, including the past two seasons with Terrell Brown, who transferred to Arizona. But he thinks Trammell has a “chance to maybe be the best” he has coached.
“He’s got room to grow as a shooter, room to grow in his two-point finishing game around the rim, his assist-to-turnover ratio,” Hayford said. “There is lots of room for improvement, but he’s the kind of player as a lead guard that you can build a program on.”
Junior guard Trey Hopkins, a former three-star recruit from Oklahoma, has quit the team. He had played in seven games this season, starting once, and was averaging 3.0 points per game.