USU’s Merrill, BYU’s Bryant Win NBA Title With Bucks
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah State guard Sam Merrill and BYU alumn Elijah Bryant joined the ranks as NBA champions with the Milwaukee Bucks title-clinching game six victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Merrill was the 60th pick in the NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans but was traded to Milwaukee along with guard Jrue Holiday on draft night in what proved to be a critical move in the Bucks title aspirations.
Bryant meanwhile signed a two-year contract with the Bucks in mid-May, just three games before the regular season ended.
The Bucks won their first NBA title in 50 years with a 105-98 win in Game 6 to take the series 4-2.
Merrill joined the Bucks after averaging 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists in his four-year career at Utah State. The guard averaged three points and one rebound in 30 appearances for Milwaukee as a rookie.
Bryant appeared in just one regular season game for Milwaukee, scoring 16 points, grabbing six rebounds, and handing out three assists in the season finale. The guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting 47 percent from the floor including 37 percent from three as a sophomore and junior.
Bryant went undrafted after his junior season but joined Hapoel Eilat of the Israeli Premier League before signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv. The former Cougar also played for Milwaukee at the 2019 NBA Summer League.
The two rookies join elite company having won titles after attending college in the state of Utah.
Merrill is the first Aggie to win an NBA title, though former USU forward Marv Roberts won the 1975 ABA title with the Kentucky Colonels.
Bryant is the third BYU Cougar to win an NBA title, joining Danny Ainge and Greg Kite who both won titles as teammates with the Boston Celtics in 1984 and 1986.
Prior to 1984, former BYU big man Jim Eakins won ABA titles in 1969 and 1976 with the Oakland Oaks and the New York Nets. Dick Nemelka won an ABA title in 1971 with the Stars in 1971.
Four former University of Utah basketball players have won NBA titles, including Kyle Kuzma, Andrew Bogut, Michael Doleac, and Arnie Ferrin.