Hard Work Paying Off For Former Utah State Standout Sam Merrill

Dec 26, 2023, 4:13 PM | Updated: 4:16 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Former Utah State shooting guard Sam Merrill is taking full advantage of his opportunity with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With the Cavs reeling from recent injuries, Merrill scored back-to-back career-highs in wins over the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz in the week leading up to Christmas.

RELATED: career-highCavaliers Outshoot Jazz Behind Merrill Career-High


Two nights after scoring 19 points and hitting 5-of-10 threes in a 135-130 win over the Houston Rockets, Merrill exploded against his hometown Utah Jazz.

“We all work too hard to not enjoy moments like this,” Merrill said after hitting 8-of-14 threes on his way to 27 points in a 124-116 shorthanded Cavaliers win over Utah.

RELATED: Merrill’s Career-High Helps Cavs Beat Rockets In OT

“I’ve worked as hard as I could and felt like there were times when maybe this wasn’t going to work out… In high school, my goal was to play division one basketball. The NBA was never even in my sights.”

Former Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang credited Merrill’s even-keeled approach for the recent success. “The best part about Sam is that he’s never too high, never too low. He just comes in and does his work. I think it’s good that the world gets to see that Sam Merrill is a really good basketball player.”

After playing 54 combined minutes against the Rockets and Jazz, Merrill left the Cavs game against New Orleans on December 21 with a wrist injury. He hasn’t played since.

About Sam Merrill

Before his professional career, the Bountiful High product was a star for the Aggies. During his time at USU, Merrill was honored as AP Honorable Mention All-American (2019), Mountain West Conference Player of the Year (2019), first-team All-Mountain West (2019 & 2020), and Mountain West tournament MVP (2019 & 2020).

After a standout career at USU, Merrill was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 60 overall pick during the 2020 NBA Draft. Merrill was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a draft day trade.

RELATED: Former Utah State Guard Sam Merrill Selected By Milwaukee Bucks In 2020 NBA Draft

Since his rookie season, Merrill has played for the Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Cavaliers. He’s also played in the G League for the Memphis Hustle and Cleveland Charge.

In 2021, Merrill helped the Bucks win the NBA Finals.

During his NBA career, the Utah State alum has averaged 3.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 0.3 steals in his first 54 games played.

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Utah State opens Mountain West play against Air Force (7-5) on Tuesday, January 2. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. (MT).

USU is 25-7 all-time against the Falcons and 9-7 in Colorado Springs. The Aggies have won the last four games in the series after sweeping AFA in two games last season.

Listen to USU basketball games on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

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Hard Work Paying Off For Former Utah State Standout Sam Merrill