NBA

Former Bountiful, Utah State Sharpshooter Turning Heads In NBA

Jan 23, 2024, 4:55 PM | Updated: 4:58 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Nearly three years ago, Utah State senior guard Sam Merrill pulled up from 30 feet away and buried a three that ticketed his Aggies for the NCAA Tournament. That would end up being the final shot of his collegiate career.

The casual fan could be forgiven for not realizing Merrill’s basketball dreams continued well beyond that ill-fated season. Not only is the Aggies’ second-leading all-time scorer still playing basketball, but he’s earning rotation minutes alongside Donovan Mitchell with one of the NBA’s hottest teams.

RELATED: Hard Work Paying Off For Former Utah State Standout Sam Merrill

Forced into the lineup as injuries ravaged the Cleveland Cavaliers in December, Merrill put the league on notice. The righthanded sniper ripped off back-to-back career-high scoring nights against the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

Since December 18, Merrill’s 13.8 points in 24 minutes per night are fourth on the team. He makes 3.8 threes a night at a 43 percent clip and has made five or more threes in a game five times.

The Cavs are 10-3 since Merrill entered the rotation.

Merrill is posting career-highs of 8.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this season.

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 as the No. 60 overall pick during the 2020 NBA Draft. He was then sent to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a draft-day trade.

His rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks resulted in an NBA championship, but Merrill played sparingly, averaging less than eight minutes a night in 30 appearances. Despite making threes at a 44.7 percent rate, he couldn’t crack the title-bound Bucks rotation.

RELATED: Former USU Star Signs Multi-Year Contract With Cavaliers

Merrill signed with Memphis for the 2021-22 season, playing six games with the Grizzlies before being released in January 2022.

Merrill signed with the G-League’s Canton Charge for the 2022-23 season.

The 6’4 guard averaged 18.4 points and nearly four threes per game on 44.1 percent shooting in 22 games for the Charge before signing a 10-day contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in March 2023.

Merrill has career averages of 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. In 67 games, he has shot 42 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep.

Find KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics here.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio and video and stay updated on all your favorite teams.

Brian Preece is a KSLsports.com insider covering the Utah State Aggies and Salt Lake Bees. Follow Brian’s coverage of the Bees, Big League Utah, and Aggie athletics here.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

NBA

Mike-Conley-Minnesota-Timberwolves-NBA...

Kyle Ireland

Reports: Former Jazzman Mike Conley Agrees To Extension With Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley agreed to a contract extension worth more than $20 million, according to multiple reports.

2 days ago

Jacque-Vaughn-Utah-Jazz-NBA...

Kyle Ireland

Brooklyn Nets Fire Former Utah Jazz Guard Jacque Vaughn

The Brooklyn Nets announced that they’ve fired former Utah Jazz guard Jacque Vaughn as the team’s head coach.

2 days ago

LeBron-James-NBA-All-Star-Game-2024...

Tim Reynolds, AP

LeBron James Still Committed To Paris Olympics, But Health Remains Big Key

Los Angeles Lakers forward and NBA star LeBron James still wants to participate in the Paris Olympics this summer.

2 days ago

NBA-All-Star-Game-Indianapolis-Damian-Lillard...

Tim Reynolds, AP

Points Records Fall At 2024 NBA All-Star Game, With East Beating West

The Eastern Conference beat the West 211-186 on Sunday night, with the winners putting up the most points in the game's 73-year history.

2 days ago

Gainbridge-Fieldhouse-NBA-All-Star-2024...

Kyle Ireland

Top Memes From NBA All-Star Weekend 2024

Social media was buzzing with clever and hilarious posts all weekend long as the NBA its players during All-Star Weekend.

2 days ago

Damian-Lillard-NBA-All-Star-Game-MVP-2024...

Kyle Ireland

Former Weber State Star Damian Lillard Wins NBA All-Star Game MVP

Former Weber State and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard received MVP honors for his performance in the 73rd NBA All-Star Game.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Former Bountiful, Utah State Sharpshooter Turning Heads In NBA