LOCALS IN THE NBA

Cavaliers Guard Sam Merrill Says Game In Utah Against Jazz Was Surreal

Apr 4, 2024, 2:58 PM | Updated: Apr 8, 2024, 1:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Current Cavaliers guard and former Utah State Aggie Sam Merrill joined the KSL Sports Zone to talk about his first NBA game back in Utah.

Merrill played his first game in Delta Center on Tuesday after four years in the league.

It was his second time back in Salt Lake City but was unable to suit up in the first game because of an injury.

Money Merrill Returns To Utah

It was a full circle moment for Merrill as the Jazz hosted the Cavaliers on Tuesday, April 2.

The Bountiful native had played games in Delta Center before but it was his first as an NBA player.

With friends and family in the stands to watch him hoop, Merrill took advantage of the opportunity.

“It was quite the experience,” Merrill said. “There was a lot going on. Being out there, it was a pretty surreal moment. To be on that floor playing in an NBA game, it was a really fun experience and something that I am definitely not taking for granted.”

Merrill was one of five Cavs to post double-figures.

He poured in 18 points with six made threes and added four rebounds and five assists.

After hitting one three in each of the first two quarters, Merrill said that he set himself up for a big second half.

“It felt good,” Merrill said. “I was able to get a few open ones. Once you’re able to see these go down, you just get more and more confidence. I wanted to play well. But for me, it’s all about trying to play winning basketball on both ends of the floor.”

Sam Merrill: A Star In His Role

Merrill is the only active NBA player who calls Utah home.

The work that Merrill has put in led him to the top of the basketball world. But, he added that the grind must go on if he wants to avoid complacency.

“Sometimes you have to take a step back,” Merrill said. “I never thought I’d be here. This is a dream come true for me. Once you get a taste of it, it’s such a grind just to stick around. I get traded my first year and then I get waived. I always felt like I was good enough but it wasn’t until this year where I was really able to show that.”

Merrill also had some high praise for former Jazz All-Star and current teammate Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell has led the Cavs to a top record in the East this season but all of Merrill’s comments were regarding the off-court aspects.

“(Donovan Mitchell) knows how to uplift his teammates and give them confidence,” Merrill said. “He takes accountability. Everything you would want in a great teammate, he has.”

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Cavaliers Guard Sam Merrill Says Game In Utah Against Jazz Was Surreal