With the abrupt end to the 2019-20 college basketball season, postseason awards continue to trickle in.
A pair of Aggies on the men’s team were honored Monday. Senior guard Sam Merrill and sophomore center Neemias Queta were named first-team and second-team all-District 17 honorees, respectively. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) made the announcement.
Merrill and Queta also received these same awards from the NABC last year. They are the only duo in the Mountain West named all-district in each of the last two years.
Merrill and Queta are two of just 10 athletes named to the District 17 team, which is made up of players in the Mountain West. Utah State has been represented on the list in each of the last four season as Jalen Moore was named second team in 2017, while Koby McEwen was named second team in 2018.
Merrill led the Aggies in scoring this season, averaging 19.7 points per game, to rank second in the MW. Merrill became just the sixth player in conference history and just the fourth player in USU history to surpass 2,000 career points, totaling 2,197 points to rank second in both MW and program history.
It was Merrill’s 3-point bucket in the waning seconds against San Diego State in the MW Tournament championship game that sealed the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament berth and gave USU its second consecutive MW Tournament title. Merrill was selected as the MW Tournament MVP, becoming the first player in league history to win back-to-back MW Tournament MVP awards.
Merrill scored in double figures in all but one game this past 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 also led the Aggies this season in assists, averaging 3.9 dimes per game. Merrill was fourth on the team in rebounding with 4.1 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. Merrill’s free throw percentage ranks 12th nationally.
Queta was a defensive presence for the Aggies for a second year in a row after coming back from an off-season knee injury. Queta led the MW with 1.7 blocks per game and saw his production improve each month of the season, averaging 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in January, compared to 15.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game during the month of February. During the Aggies’ title run at the conference tournament, Queta averaged 14.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game en route to being named to the all-tournament team.
On the season, Queta averaged 13.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, turning in double figures in the scoring department in 14 games and logging a double-double in four contests. Queta led the Aggies in field goal percentage this season, shooting 62.4 percent (108 of 173) from the floor and knocked down his only 3-point field goal attempt.
Despite having his season start late because of injury, Queta totaled 38 blocks to lead the Aggies and increase his career total to 122, which ranks fourth in school history.