LOGAN, Utah – Utah State senior guard Sam Merrill has been named to the watch list of the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Monday.
Merrill is one of 50 in the nation on the initial list that will be trimmed to 30 in February. That list will then be reduced to 10 national semifinalists on March 5, and four finalists on March 17. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy will be awarded in Atlanta, Ga., during the Final Four at the Naismith Awards Brunch on April 5, 2020.
Merrill, the 2019 Mountain West Player of the Year and MW Tournament MVP, led the Aggies to both the regular season and conference tournament title a season ago after pacing USU with a team-best 20.9 points per game. Merrill finished the year with 731 points, the fifth-most in a single season in Utah State history, while his average of 20.9 points per game ranked second in the MW. Merrill was also the top distributor for the Aggies, totaling a team-best 147 assists and averaging 4.2 per contest to rank fifth in the MW.
Merrill was also named third-team All-American by Stadium, AP honorable mention All-American, first-team all-Mountain West, first-team all-District 17 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and all-District VIII by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Merrill will enter the 2019-20 season with 1,568 career points and could become just the fourth Aggie in the history of the program to eclipse 2,000 career points.
Merrill spent part of his offseason participating in the CP3 Elite Guard Camp as one of just 15 collegiate point guards invited to the camp. The camp annually features the top-30 high school point guards from around the country and the top-15 collegiate point guards for an intense three-day training camp with current NBA player Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Players were tutored by Paul on everything from skill development to film breakdown to life skills.
Merrill and the Utah State Aggies open the 2019-20 season on Tuesday, hosting Montana State at 8 p.m., inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Fans can watch the game on AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 683, Dish 414, Comcast 52).