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Sam Merrill has been working hard to stay in shape and be prepared for the next step in his basketball career.

The graduated Aggie found out Monday that he had made the first cut of players who could possibly be invited to the NBA Draft Combine. The former Utah State guard is one of 105 players worldwide to be listed by the NBA.

There is no date for the combine as of yet since COVID-19 has messed with all sports and schedules. The NBA is starting back up later this week to finish the 2019-20 season.

The list could be whittled down to 70 players when the combine actually takes place.

Merrill is projected as a potential second-round pick in the NBA Draft, whenever it happens. He is being touted as one of the top shooters in the field.

That is no shocker to Aggie fans as they continue to enjoy the final shot of Merrill’s USU career. It came in the championship game of the Mountain West Tournament last March against nationally-ranked San Diego State. Merrill drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give the Aggies their second straight league tournament title and the resulting automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. However, the coronavirus halted that and Merrill’s storied career at USU.

Merrill wrapped up his collegiate career as one of the all-time Aggie greats and ranks second in school history in both career points (2,197) and career assists (477). He 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 USU 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.

The NBA Draft Combine is anticipated to take place at the end of August, although a confirmed date has not been announced. The combine was originally scheduled for May 21-24 in Chicago, but was postponed because of COVID-19.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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