Column: Darrion Trammell ready to shine when it matters most

Aztec men’s basketball enters season looking to avenge last year’s first-round loss

Senior+Darrion+Trammell+dribbles+up+the+court+during+an+exhibition+versus+San+Diego+Christian+on+Nov.+1%2C+2022.+

Jesse Gordon

Senior Darrion Trammell dribbles up the court during an exhibition versus San Diego Christian on Nov. 1, 2022.

by Justin Cox, Sports Editor

The 2021-22 season was more of the same for the Aztec men’s basketball team. Following a strong regular season in which the team finished 23-9 and earned an eight seed in the NCAA tournament, the Aztec offense sputtered once again as they were eliminated in the first round by Creighton University, spoiling yet another strong season.

         In head coach Brian Dutcher’s five years at the helm of the team, the Aztecs have won at least 20 games in every season. Yet in their three NCAA tournament bids over that same span, they have left empty handed— losing in the first round all three times. For the Aztec program to be recognized as one of the top programs in the country, this trend must change. The team will have to show they belong on the biggest stage, can defeat the nation’s best and not crumble under the brightest of lights.

         Luckily for the Aztecs, senior transfer Darrion Trammell came to San Diego State looking to shine in that spotlight as he decided to join the Aztecs after two seasons at Seattle University.

         “I was looking for a bigger opportunity,” Trammell said. “Being able to show who I am on a bigger stage. (Dutcher) showed that he really believed in me and that’s a really big thing.”

         After transferring to Seattle after his freshman season at the City College of San Francisco, Trammell established himself as one of the best the Western Athletic Conference had to offer. In his two seasons, he earned two first team all-WAC awards and a spot on the conference all-defensive team last season. His sophomore year he led the conference in points per game and last season he led the WAC in assists and steals while placing fifth in scoring.

         Like the rest of his Aztec teammates Trammell is excellent on defense. Despite his 5 feet, 10 inch frame, Trammell makes his presence felt on the defensive end, hounding opponents and picking up his matchup full court.

         In his brief time in the Scarlet and Black, Trammell has already impressed his teammates with his ability.

         “I’ve been really impressed with Darrion,” senior Aguek Arop said. “The way he can not only put the ball in the hoop but he can also pass. That is what we need from a point guard. He can really put the ball in the hoop, so it makes us that much more dangerous.”

         Trammell joins a potent Aztec roster looking to avenge its disappointing season last year. The team returns four of its five starters, missing only point guard Trey Pulliam and a number of key bench contributors. 

Trammell’s new backcourt mate, junior Lamont Butler said the two have grown close both on and off the court.

         “That’s my guy,” Butler said. “Off the court we are buddies for real, we are always hanging out, so we have a good relationship. We just can’t wait to go out there and hoop this year together. At practice we’ve been going at it so much that now being allowed to play with each other it will be easier for us to get our games off.”

         To prepare for the season, SDSU was able to go head-to-head with UCLA, one of the nation’s top programs and one they may face in March. The outcome was a competitive 89-87 loss for the Aztecs, but it gave Dutcher and his coaching staff a taste of what Trammell can bring to this year’s team.

         Trammell was given a place in the starting lineup. He delivered by scoring 24 points to lead the Aztecs in scoring. 

         “We were excited,” Trammell said. “It was a good test for us early, I feel like we played well but we have a lot of things we need to work on, but I think that it was good to find them out now.”

         Trammell noted turnovers and defensive pressure were two keys the Aztecs needed to improve upon but was confident they would improve with time.

The Azecs will have their chance to prove they are ready for a deep run as their early season schedule has some big tests early. They will travel to Hawaii to take on Ohio State on Nov. 21 in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. 

         It remains to be seen if the Aztecs can prove they are capable of deep runs in March, but if the 2022-23 Aztecs hope to buck the trend, Trammell may accomplish what he set out to do when he transferred to the Mesa— show who he is on the biggest stage.