Sam Merrill named Second-Team Academic All-American

Utah State's Sam Merrill plays against Wyoming during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Mountain West Conference men's tournament Friday, March 6, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State senior guard Sam Merrill has been named a second-team academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), as announced by the organization on Monday.

Merrill was one of just 15 student-athletes in the nation recognized on the list and was one of two from the state of Utah, as BYU’s TJ Haws was named to the third team. Merrill is a two-time academic all-Mountain West selection and a three-time Whitesides Scholar Athlete, a student-athlete academic award given at Utah State University. Merrill is on track to graduate from USU with a degree in business administration this coming May.

Merrill is the fifth men’s basketball player in Utah State history to earn academic All-American honors, joining Gary Watts (1964), Dean Hunger (1980), Larry Bergeson (1982) and Eric Franson (1996).

In addition to his success in the classroom, Merrill has proven himself to be one of the best Aggie basketball players in school history. The Bountiful, Utah native has totaled 2,197 career points to rank second in both Utah State and Mountain West history, while also ranking second in school history with 477 career assists.

Merrill sealed the Aggies’ spot in the NCAA Tournament with a game-winning 3-point bucket with 2.5 seconds on the clock against San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament Championship game on Saturday afternoon. Merrill turned in 20-point performances in every game of the tournament, scoring 29 points in the quarterfinals against New Mexico, 27 points against Wyoming in the semifinals and a second 27-point performance against the Aztecs in the championship.

Merrill was named the tournament MVP for the second consecutive year, becoming the first player in Mountain West history to accomplish that feat. For the tournament, Merrill averaged 27.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, shooting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the floor, 42.3 percent (11-of-26) from behind the 3-point line and 82.4 percent (14-of-17) at the free throw line.

Utah State will find out its opponent and where it will be playing in the NCAA Tournament when the 2020 Men’s Basketball Selection show will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday, March 15, at 4 p.m. (MT).

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