Athletics

Merrill Becomes first Aggie to Win NBA Title

By Jacob Nielson |

For the first time in program history, a former Utah State Aggie will have an NBA championships ring.

With the Milwaukee Bucks 105-98 win over the Phoenix Suns in game six of the NBA Finals on Tuesday evening, Sam Merrill is an NBA title winner in his rookie season.

He is also the first former Aggie to win a major professional basketball title since Marvin Roberts won an ABA title with the Kentucky Colonels in 1975.

Merrill stepped on the court just once during The Finals, playing the final 1:18 of the Bucks game three victory over the Suns. He appeared in eight games throughout the whole playoffs, where he averaged 3.8 minutes and .6 points per game.

Despite the lack of meaningful playing time, it’s been an impactful experience for Merrill.

In a story published by the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday morning, Merrill spoke on the whole experience.“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for me…It’s been unlike anything I’ve ever been through.”

Also enjoying the experience seemed to be Merrill’s wife, Kanyan Merrill, a former Utah State soccer player. She posted an Instagram story of herself Saturday night running through the concourse at Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix celebrating the Bucks 123-119 win in game five over the Suns.

Merrill appeared in 30 games in the regular season, where he averaged 7.8 minutes, 3 points and 1 rebound. He finished the year shooting .447 percent from 3-point range and .444 from the field.

Despite the scarce playing time, he had some memorable moments throughout the season.

His career-high was on March 26 against the Celtics, when he scored 15 points on 6-8 shooting in just 20 minutes played.

In a game on April 9 against the Hornets, he turned heads but driving down the lane and throwing the ball down for a dunk – something he never did at Utah State.

On December 29 against the Miami Heat, Merrill stepped in and hit the Bucks 29th 3-pointer of the game – achieving an NBA record for most 3 pointers in one game.

For Merrill, there will be a quick turnaround from the emotional high of winning a title. He turns his focus to the NBA Summer League which starts August 8.

WRITER

Jacob Nielson
Sports Content Manager Student Reporter
Utah Statesman
sports@usustatesman.com

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