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Former BYU guard Elijah Bryant signs with NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks

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FILE - Colorado College’s Ryan Young grabs onto BYU guard Elijah Bryant (3) as he drives to the basket as BYU and Colorado College play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. Bryant, the former BYU star who was most recently playing in the Israeli League, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, the club announced Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Former BYU guard Elijah Bryant is getting his first chance on an NBA roster.

The Milwaukee Bucks announced Thursday morning they have officially signed Bryant. This comes a little more than a week after multiple international media outlets reported Bryant would be leaving his Israeli League team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, for an opportunity in the NBA.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Bryant will wear No. 3 for the Bucks. Milwaukee is currently the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the NBA’s regular season wrapping up this weekend.

The Bucks waived forward Rodions Kurucs on Wednesday, making way for Bryant to fill the final roster spot.

Details of Bryant’s signing trickled out in the days leading up to the news becoming official. Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia and Sport5’s Roi Cohen first reported the impending move, adding that the Bucks negotiated a buyout around $500,000 to acquire Bryant’s services from Tel Aviv. Last Saturday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed their initial reports that Bryant would be joining Milwaukee on a two-year deal.

“I want to thank Maccabi for allowing me to go and try to fulfill my dream,” Bryant told the Maccabi Tel Aviv’s official website. ”I know it’s not an easy decision and I really appreciate it.” 

Bryant averaged 10.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 47.7% from the field this season with Maccabi, where he’s played since 2019. He won a league title with the team last season. Prior to that, Bryant spent one season playing for another Israeli League team, Hapoel Eilat, and was named to the All-Israeli League in 2018-19.

“We wish all the best to Elijah, who is going to fulfill a childhood dream,” Maccabi coach Yannis Sapropoulos said in a team release.

The 26-year-old Bryant declared for the 2018 NBA draft following his junior season at BYU, when he averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his final year as a Cougar.

He went undrafted, then played in the NBA Summer League with Philadelphia in 2018, prior to heading overseas. Bryant returned the next year to the Summer League and played in four games for the Bucks, averaging 14.3 points in 23.3 minutes played per game.

He joins a Milwaukee team that already includes another Utah tie: former Utah State guard Sam Merrill, the final pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Merrill, who prepped at Bountiful High, is averaging 3.1 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 7.3 minutes played per game in 28 contests during his rookie season.

Merrill, who played against Bryant in college, sent a shoutout to the former Cougar on social media earlier this week.

Last year, Bryant explained to the Deseret News how his game has improved since he left BYU.

“I’ve learned a lot about the game, and I’m trying to be consistent in being better at what I do. You see it a lot in the NBA — ‘He’s a rim-protector, he’s a scoring point guard’ — it’s trying to figure out what I do best and really master that, whether that’s shooting 3s or pick-and-roll,” he said. “For me, consistency is something I’ve improved on. Consistency is so important. In college, I didn’t really understand that. I did whatever the team needed me to do, I’ll do. I still do that but it’s about being consistent at a few things.”