Utah State men's basketball senior guard Sam Merrill has been named a Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American as announced by the organization on Tuesday.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Merrill led the Aggies in scoring this season, averaging 19.7 points per game, to rank second in the Mountain West. Merrill became just the sixth player in conference history and just the fourth player in Utah State history to surpass 2,000 career points, totaling 2,197 points to rank second in both MW and USU history. It was Merrill's 3-point bucket in the waning seconds against San Diego State in the MW Tournament Championship that sealed the Aggies' NCAA Tournament berth and gave USU its second consecutive MW Tournament title. For his efforts, Merrill was named the MW Tournament MVP, becoming the first player in league history to win back-to-back MW Tournament MVP honors.
Merrill scored in double figures in all but one game this season and scored 20-or-more points in each of the last three games and in three of the final five of the regular season, including a season-high 32 points at Colorado State on Feb. 11.
In addition to his scoring, Merrill led the Aggies this season in assists, averaging 3.9 helpers per game. Merrill was fourth on the team on the glass, averaging 4.1 rebounds per contest. For the year, Merrill shot 46.1 percent (195-of-423) from the floor, 41.0 percent (89-of-217) from behind the 3-point line and a MW-best 89.3 percent (150-of-168) at the free throw line. In fact, Merrill's free throw percentage ranks 12th in the nation, while his 150 makes at the charity stripe ranks 22nd.
Merrill was joined on the first team by Kansas' Udoka Azubuike, Marquette's Markus Howard, Seton Hall's Myles Powell and Michigan State's Cassius Winston. The Senior CLASS Award second team was made up of BYU's Yoeli Childs, Dartmouth's James Foye, William & Mary's Nathan Knight, LSU's Skylar Mays and Penn State's Lamar Stevens.
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