LOGAN, Utah – Sam Merrill, the second-leading scorer and No. 2 all-time assist leader in Utah State history, was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night. Merrill is the first Aggie selected in the NBA Draft since the 1986 season, when Greg Grant was a sixth-round selection by the Detroit Pistons.
Furthermore, with former USU quarterback Jordan Love being drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers in the 2020 NFL Draft, Merrill’s selection marks the first time since the 1968 season that an Aggie has been selected in either the first or second round of each draft in the same calendar year. It appears the duo will share the Badger State as Merrill is rumored to be part of a trade deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The previous instance when Aggies were selected in the first or second round of both drafts included USU men’s basketball Shaler Halimon, who was the 14th pick of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first round of the 1968 NBA Draft, and football’s MacArthtur Lane was the 13th pick for the Cardinals in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft. The Aggies’ Bill Staley also went in the second round of the 1968 NFL drafted after being selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 28th pick.
Merrill finished his career at Utah State as one of the all-time greats and ranks second in school history in both career points (2,197) and career assists (477). He also helped the Aggies capture back-to-back Mountain West Tournament championships and became the first player in league history to earn back-to-back Mountain West Tournament MVP honors.
Merrill led USU is scoring in each of the past two seasons, averaging 20.9 points per game as a junior and 19.7 points per game during his senior campaign en route to becoming just the fourth Aggie in school history to surpass 2,000 career points. In addition to career numbers in points and assists, Merrill’s name is peppered among 12 other all-time records in Utah State history, including a school-record 89.1 percent shooting at the free throw line over the course of his career.
Merrill’s individual accolades represent both his accomplishments on the basketball court and in the classroom as he was named the Mountain West Player of the Year, two-time first-team all-Mountain West, Senior CLASS first-team All-American, third-team All-American by Stadium, honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press, two-time USBWA all-district, USBWA District VIII Player of the Year, two-time NABC first-team all-district, three-time academic all-Mountain West and four-time USU Whitesides Scholar-Athlete.
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