Sam Merrill was one of those names many in the Utah Jazz fandom wanted to see in Salt Lake City. Merrill, for those who don't know, is a Utah boy through and through. He played his high school ball in Utah, then he went to Utah State to play for the Aggies, and throughout it all, proved to be a great shooter.
During his time at State, he averaged nearly 17 points across all four years he was there, and shot 42% from three, proving his worth as a guy who can stretch the court with relative ease. During his time in college, he only had one losing season and won 28 and 26 games respectively in his final two seasons with the team.
The Aggies would end up being a 9th seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, mostly due to the impact that Merrill brought to the squad. They got bounced in the first-round but many thought 2020 would be a better year for the club, but COVID shuttered the doors on that idea, with the NCAA canceling the tournament for the year.
His history with the state was the driving force many Jazz fans wanted him to stay local.
That wouldn't happen and Merill wouldn't get one last go to prove his worth in the tournament, ending up falling to the 2nd round of the 2020 NBA Draft. He'd bounce around, ending up in a few different cities before signing with the Cleveland Charge in the 2022-2023 season. He's since been called up to the Cavaliers' main roster, and against the Utah Jazz last night he really did a number on them.
Merrill went 9-16 from the floor, 8-14 from three, and scored 27 points in what would be a very important addition to the Cavs 124-116 victory over the Jazz. He didn't just lead the Cavs in points, but he led the Cavs in BPM, with a +17.
The Jazz's Lauri Markkanen tried to match him point for point, but only mustered 26, and with the poor perimeter defense by the Jazz, Markkanen could only do so much to help the Jazz keep up with the Cavs.