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Utah State’s Sam Merrill selected with last pick of NBA draft

Utah State guard Sam Merrill makes a move against an Air Force defender in a January game at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.
Utah State guard Sam Merrill makes a move against an Air Force defender in a January game at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah.
Wade Denniston, Wade Denniston

He had to wait as long as possible on Wednesday night, but Utah native Sam Merrill is an NBA draft pick.

The former Bountiful High and Utah State star was taken with the 60th and final pick of the draft. The pick was made by the New Orleans Pelicans, but it will be sent to the Milwaukee Bucks, and thus Merrill will begin his NBA career alongside league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Having played four years at Utah State, the 24-year-old Merrill was seen as one of the best shooters in this year’s draft, and at 6-foot-5, he should be able to serve as a big playmaking guard despite a relative lack of athleticism.

That should fit well in Milwaukee if Merrill makes the team, as the Bucks need players who can do both of those things.

“He has a nice crossover and step-back combo that’s reminiscent of Luka Doncic,” wrote NBC’s Brian Brennan. “He’ll also run around screens and execute dribble-handoffs like JJ Redick. He doesn’t need much room to get his shot off and can make shots with a defender in his face, which makes that 42.0 three-point percentage even more impressive.”

As a senior last year at Utah State, Merrill averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists in exactly 35 minutes per game.

Utah State athletic director John Hartwell tweeted after the pick was made, “So fired up for @smerrill05 getting picked in the 2nd Round of the NBA Draft by @Bucks! They got a WINNER who is a GREAT hoops player and an even better person! @USUBasketball #AggiesAllTheWay