This college basketball season was one of the most competitive seasons ever. There were seven different teams that ranked #1 at different times during the season.
Yesterday should have been the final two Elite Eight matchups, and we would be buzzing with excitement for the Final Four this weekend. In Part 1, I thanked a couple of undergrads that have declared for the NBA Draft, and this week will focus on seniors that saw their careers end abruptly.
Sam Merrill, Utah State Guard
First, I want to thank the best player in the Mountain West Conference (no offense to San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn) for helping elevate the Mountain West Conference to a new level. Utah State was ranked #17 in the preseason AP poll, and it was because of how dominant Sam Merrill is.
Merrill had serious preseason Wooden award buzz, and he made the top 50 list for the award. His final year in Logan wasn’t as prolific as his junior year was, but he did play three less games due to some ankle ailments.
The Mountain West Conference was one of the few conferences to crown a conference tournament champion, and Sam Merrill provided himself with the ultimate college basketball capper with that three over San Diego State’s K.J. Feagin.
At the time, I was slightly upset because I had some sizable wagers on the 2nd half over, and Sam Merrill had put Utah State on his back. While watching that game, I was actually confused why Merrill wasn’t shooting every time down for the Aggies.
He finished the title game shooting 10-22, including 6-15 from three, and never left the floor. That game winner was the kind of moment that March Madness is all about, and it even has the NCAA Tournament feel with the CBS broadcast. All that’s missing is Bill Raftery yelling, “Onions!”
After all of that, thank you to Sam Merrill for what was an impressive career to watch in the Mountain West and for providing college basketball fans with the only real March Madness moment of 2020. It doesn’t seem like Merrill will have an NBA career on the account of being 24 years old when he’s drafted and a lack of athleticism. Nonetheless, you’ll always be remembered for making the Mountain West better and getting me up off the couch in excitement during March 2020.
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