Utah State’s Sam Merrill named AP Honorable Mention All-American

Utah State Aggies guard Sam Merrill (5) holds the Mountain West Championship trophy in Las Vegas, NV, on March 16. The Aggies won against the Aztecs, 64-57, and will be an automatic berth in the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State junior guard Sam Merrill has been named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, as announced by the organization on Tuesday. Merrill is the sixth Aggie men’s basketball player to be recognized as an All-American by the AP, and the first since Tai Wesley was named an honorable mention All-American in 2011.

Utah State Aggies guard Sam Merrill (5) looks to rebound during the second half against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, on March 15. The Aggies won against the Bulldogs, 85-60, and will advance to play San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship finals.

Merrill accumulated several awards this season, earning Mountain West Player of the Year, Mountain West Tournament MVP, first-team all-Mountain West, USBWA all-District VIII and NABC all-District 17 honors. The Bountiful, Utah native led the Aggies in scoring with 731 points, the fifth-most in a single season in school history, averaging 20.9 points per game. Merrill is the first USU player to average more than 20 points per game since the 2007-08 season. Merrill led the Mountain West in scoring during league games, averaging 22.0 points per game during the conference slate.

Merrill led the Aggies in scoring in 26 games during the year, logging double figures in all but one contest. The run included bookended career-highs of 37 points in the regular-season opening at Montana State and 38 points in the regular-season finale at Colorado State. Merrill scored 20 or more points in 18 games during the year, including four games with 30 or more points.

Utah State Aggies guard Sam Merrill (5) shoots a free throw during the first half against the New Mexico Lobos in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV, on March 14. The Utah State Aggies won against the New Mexico Lobos, 91-83, to advance in the semifinals of the Mountain West Championship.

In addition to his scoring prowess, Merrill also led the Aggies with 147 assists, averaging 4.2 per game, and tied for the team lead with 37 steals, averaging 1.1 per game. Merrill recorded his second career double-double with 18 points and 12 assists against Air Force (1/5). The 12 assists tied for the 10th-most in a single game in school history and the most by an Aggie since 2006.

Merrill led the league in conference games in free throw percentage (.904), and ranked among the MW leaders in minutes per game (37.1), assist/turnover ratio (2.3, 3rd), assists per game (4.4, 5th), 3-point field goals made per game (2.7, t-5th) and 3-point field goal percentage (.380, 10th).

Merrill was one of two players from the Mountain West with honorable mention All-American honors, joining Nevada senior Caleb Martin, and was one of two from the state of Utah, joining Utah Valley redshirt junior Jake Toolson. Other Utah State men’s basketball players named to AP All-American teams included Wayne Estes (1965), Marvin Roberts (1969, 1971), Jaycee Carroll (2007, 2008), Gary Wilkinson (2009) and Tai Wesley (2011).

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