One of the biggest additions to this year's roster is freshman guard Sam Merrill. As a three-year letterman at Bountiful High, Merrill was one of the premier players in the state of Utah during his high school career. His junior year Merrill scored a career high 35 points in a game against current teammate Jalen Moore during the state semi-finals. Merrill will most likely pressure two-year Aggie starter Julion Pearre for playing time from the very beginning of the season. As a true freshman, look for potentially four years of a Merrill/McEwen backcourt. I had a chance to ask Sam a few questions to help Aggie fans get to know him a bit better.
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· Tell me about your recruitment and journey to Utah State.
Wow, that feels like a long time ago that I made the decision to come here with my mission and everything. Utah State was the first school that showed interest in me. Later on down the road I got a lot of interest from other schools. One thing I really liked about the staff that was here, which still includes a lot of the same coaches, was Utah State always helped me see that I had a future going forward. Even if I wasn’t going to be the superstar from day one, I felt that I was going to be someone important to them. Some other schools didn’t quite show that. I’ve always loved the atmosphere here. I have always loved the coaching staff so it was an easy decision.
· What is it like to play with Jalen Moore after playing against him for so many years?
I love playing with Jalen. He’s a really good player. He’s an awesome teammate and is always willing to help us new guys out. It’s kind of weird that he is a senior and I’m only a freshman because growing up he was only a year older than me. It’s definitely a lot better being on his team than playing against him.
· What is a strength in your game that you feel you will bring to this team?
Toughness. I want to be someone that is going to give it all I’ve got every play. I want to do the best I can to help the team in any facet of the game that I can. I shoot the ball a lot better than I did in high school so that’s good. Whether it’s defensively, hitting open shots, hitting free throws or whatever the team needs, I want to be that guy.
· Who has surprised you in practice so far?
I really like Julion Pearre. We play the same position and he’s been here a couple years so I’ve been trying to learn from him. I have to go against him every single day which is a great challenge for me. He is making me a lot better as a player. I like the way he competes every minute. He is an extremely hard worker and a great teammate.
· Who is the funniest on the team?
I’m going to say Ngor. He is a pretty funny dude.
· Where is your favorite place to eat in Logan?
I like the food at Beehive Grill. It’s solid.
· What is the biggest reason you decided on USU?
I guess you could say I’ve always wanted to play here, but for as long as I can remember we haven’t won an NCAA tournament game. We’ve been right there a lot of times but that’s one of my main goals going forward. I want to do whatever I can to help the team win a couple of NCAA tournament games.