Darrion Trammell is running the show for the Aztecs

Darrion Trammell shoots against Boise State. (Don De Mars/EVT)

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Darrion Trammell on senior night. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Early in warm-ups against San Jose State on February 27, super senior point guard Darrion Trammell ensured every Aztec greeted his teammates as they moved through the shooting line. His infectious smile and calm demeanor were a noticeable contrast to the placid expressions of the rest of the group.

A vocal leader for SDSU all year, there’s been an evolution to his game over the past 10 contests. On the season, Trammell has 92 assists. Forty-three of those came in the season’s first 21 games. As SDSU navigated the final stretches of its conference schedule, he dished out 49 more.

The streak began against Utah State on February 3. It followed a 1-8 shooting performance against Colorado State. Through that fateful contest with the Rams, he averaged a pedestrian 2.08 assists per game. Since then, he has more than doubled that number, including 26 in his last four. His 4.9 assists per game during the 10 contests would rank in the top 65 in the country if stretched over the entire year.

Darrion Trammell pre-game vs Boise State. (Don De Mars/EVT)

“Darrion’s a great point guard,” Jaedon LeDee told Aztecs All In Host Louis Weiner on Tuesday afternoon. “He sees me when I duck in and create space down low. He helps me score, and I help him get assists. That’s part of being a team and working together.”

The timing of Trammell’s transition from scorer to distributor could not have come at a better time. SDSU narrowly missed dropping into the bottom six in the Mountain West standings and into the play-in portion of the conference tournament. Without Trammell’s recent play, the Aztecs’ title hopes would likely have been over before the first tip in Las Vegas.

Defense is notoriously tougher the deeper a team gets in conference play. Sets and schemes become so familiar that most contests are won outside of the game plans. Trammell’s ability to create clean looks for his teammates has been SDSU’s counter to the challenges of Mountain West play.

Against the Spartans, SDSU had another poor start. The Aztecs only scored seven points in the first 7:21 of game time. Trammell had his hand in all three.

On the first, he deftly recognized SJSU’s quick shift to a 2-3 zone on an inbound and found Jay Pal at the free throw line for a wide-open jumper. Two trips later, he fought a double team and found Micah Parrish for a wide-open three. On the final play in the sequence, Trammell earned a hockey assist. He passed on an open three in transition and quickly swung the ball to Lamont Butler, who found Elijah Saunders for a dunk.

Trammell’s impact the following game against UNLV was even more pronounced. SDSU had only 18 made field goals the entire contest. Trammell assisted on nearly 40% of them. The Aztecs scored just 13 points over the first 12:29 of the game. SDSU’s point guard assisted on a pair of three-pointers and made three free throws to account for nine of those points.

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Trammell finished with seven assists and only one turnover. His UNLV counterpart, freshman sensation Dedan Thomas, had three assists and five turnovers. Thomas’ incredible performance down the stretch masked the poor game he had against Trammell and Butler’s stifling defense.

Darrion Trammell selling out on defense. (Don De Mars/EVT)

“Yeah, Darrion’s good (defensively),” head coach Brian Dutcher told Weiner on Tuesday. “He’s a little bit undersized so guards shoot over him sometimes, but it’s never for a lack of effort or intensity on his part.”

Before their game against Boise State, SDSU celebrated its annual Senior Night. The Viejas Arena crowd poured out their appreciation for Trammell and five of his teammates with thunderous applause. As much as any of the elder statesmen potentially playing their final game at the Madhouse on the Mesa, Trammell embodies what has made this program exceptional.

Dutcher and Steve Fisher before him filled their rosters with versatile athletes capable of excelling in multiple roles. SDSU’s identity is consistent improvement throughout the season with the aim of playing its best basketball in March. The secret to accomplishing that is players like Trammell, who value winning above all else.

Against the Broncos, the game started out like a rock fight. Midway through the half, BSU led 13-11. The Aztecs were shooting 5-20. Trammell was 1-1, scoring on a traditional three-point play. Dutcher substituted liberally. Among his starters, he took his point guard out last. Trammell rested for 3:13 of game time before checking back in. It was his only break of the half.

The pattern fits how SDSU’s rotation has evolved. Trammell competed for at least 30 minutes in only four of the first 21 contests. In the final 10, he reached the 30-minute mark eight times.

Trammell ignited the scoring for the Aztecs in the second half. A deft steal on a double in the post led to Trammell’s third assist of the game. He found LeDee for a fast break layup.

Darrion Trammell in shooting drills. (Don De Mars/EVT)

His fourth assist blew the roof off the arena. Up 46-42, Trammell intercepted a pass around half-court. As he raced toward SDSU’s basket, he gave a no-look pass to a trailing LeDee, who finished for another easy basket.


Boise State called a timeout but couldn’t stop Trammell. Coming out of the second media timeout, he found LeDee for a third time. His fifth assist of the contest extended the lead to eight. Trammell would have had another on the next possession if not for a once-in-a-blue-moon three-second call on LeDee.

His next assist would have to wait. With 11:43 left in the game, Trammell got his first rest of the second half. Like his break in the first, it didn’t last long. He came back with 6:31 left and would come out again six minutes later. As the contest headed to overtime, his 31 minutes in regulation only trailed LeDee’s 35.

SDSU came up short in the extra period, but if they hope to win a conference tournament championship this week in Las Vegas, they will need Trammell playing as he has of late.

“Darrion had seven assists, I think, on our last trip to Vegas,” Dutcher explained. “He has to get in the paint and play for others because it’s hard to finish in there with their length. So, we have to get in there (on Thursday), try to draw two defenders, and either spray it out for the three or drop it to Jaedon.”

Outside of LeDee, the Aztecs have struggled to find consistent scoring. Their best offense has been generated by Darrion Trammell running the show.

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