The primary few years of Sam Merrill’s skilled basketball profession have been filled with emotional highs and lows, good instances and unhealthy, set in a shifting panorama.
“It has been fairly a roller-coaster experience, for positive,” he stated.
Here is a fast recap.
- Just a few months later, Merrill was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. The scenario appeared promising till he suffered an ankle damage, wanted surgical procedure and was waived, he stated.
- In 2022, the previous Utah State College Aggie signed with the Sacramento Kings in hopes of incomes a roster spot, however was waived previous to the beginning of the season. “I did quite a lot of great things, I felt like I put myself in place,” he stated. “It did not work out.”
- A short while later Merrill was the first decide of the NBA G League draft by the Cleveland costthe Cavalier’s G League affiliate.
“Now right here we’re in Cleveland. It has been a loopy expertise, quite a lot of ups and downs,” Merrill stated in a Church Information cellphone interview. “However I really feel like I’ve actually grown as an individual. I feel it has been good for me total.”
President Nelson’s fishing recommendation
Given his seesaw expertise, Merrill has particularly appreciated President Russell M. Nelson’s 2023 New Yr’s social media message about striving to be affected person, persistent and prayerful. The Latter-day Saint Prophet’s counsel, realized whereas deep-sea fishing, applies on to Merrill’s scenario.
“I feel these three issues have been, truthfully, three of the issues that I’ve tried to stay with essentially the most all through these ups and downs,” Merrill stated. “Being persistent, working onerous, persevering with to work and get after it; being affected person with myself and with these round me, understanding there’s solely a lot you possibly can management at this stage. I can not management what choices groups need to make, so I simply should be the perfect I could be and let the chips fall so far as that goes.”
Prayer has been crucial of the three P’s, the guard stated.
“I am not starting for one thing nice to occur. I am not particularly asking to stay within the NBA or signal a long-term contract,” Merrill stated. “I am simply asking for no matter is greatest for me. I’ve religion that so long as I do my half — it could not work out in the best way you anticipate — however it’s going to at all times work out as a result of that is what He needs for us.”
Life within the G League
The NBA’s G League reminds Merrill of faculty basketball in some methods.
In contrast to the NBA, G League groups fly industrial flights, usually on small planes, to distant places, normally adopted by a bus experience. They do not keep in five-star resorts, and the meals price range is smaller.
Though not as flashy or luxurious, for Merrill, it has been a “blessing.” He did not see the court docket a lot as an NBA rookie and missed a number of months of motion following ankle surgical procedure throughout his second 12 months.
“It has been such a blessing to only be capable to exit and play once more,” he stated. “Being in a scenario the place I get to exit and play … heavy minutes and have the ball in my arms. … It has been nice for me. I’ve grown a bunch within the final couple of months. … I am loving it, taking part in.”
Merrill additionally has the benefit of getting served a full-time mission in Nicaragua for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I at all times inform individuals nothing I do on a basketball court docket will ever be as onerous because the expertise that I went via there. I can run and run and do conditioning, all these things, however the mission was very, very onerous from a bodily and emotional standpoint,” he stated. “The ups and downs of that definitely apply to what I am attempting to do right here.”
Merrill expressed gratitude for his spouse, Kanyan, their 8-month-old daughter and their households for supporting him and permitting him to pursue his basketball profession.
Latter-day Saints in NBA’s G League
Merrill is one in all 4 Latter-day Saints taking part in within the NBA’s G League, a minor league basketball group. The opposite three are Justin Bean, Frank Jackson and Eric Mika.
justin bean: Merrill’s former teammate at Utah State, Bean is averaging 10 factors, 6.6 rebounds and one help per recreation this season for the Memphis Hustle, an affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies. Bean, A descendant of the Willard Bean“The Combating Preacher,” served his mission in Reno, Nevada.
Frank Jackson: After taking part in for New Orleans and Detroit within the NBA, the previous Duke College and Lone Peak Excessive College participant is averaging 20.5 factors a recreation for the Salt Lake Metropolis Stars.
Eric Mika: Since serving a mission in Rome, Italy, and leaving Brigham Younger College, the 6-foot-10 heart/ahead has performed professionally in Italy, Germany, China, Serbia and France. In 2019-20, he suited up for the Stockton Kings, the G League affiliate of the Sacramento Kings. This 12 months, Mika is averaging 12.8 factors, 8.4 rebounds and three assists a recreation in Henderson, Nevada, for the G League’s Ignite.
Latter-day Saints taking part in in overseas nations
- Elijah Bryanta former BYU Cougar, is averaging 16 factors a recreation for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes. He and Merrill had been on the roster when Milwaukee defeated Phoenix within the NBA finals in 2021. Bryant additionally helped Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli League title in 2020 and was a key contributor for Anadolu Efes when it received the EuroLeague crown.
- Brandon Daviesformer BYU massive man, is taking part in for Italy’s Olympia Milano following years in Spain, Lithuania, Monaco and brief stints within the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. He has pinned a scripture from the Ebook of Mormon, Alma 26:12on his Twitter account.
Yea, I do know that I’m nothing; as 2 my power I’m weak; due to this fact I can’t boast of myself, however I’ll boast of my God, 4 in his power I can do all issues; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we’ve wrought on this land, for which we’ll reward his title eternally. Alma 26:12
— Brandon Davies (@Brandon_Davies0) July 28, 2019
Not on a roster
Parker, chosen No. 2 total within the 2014 NBA draft, has performed for a number of NBA groups through the years, most lately in Boston in the course of the 2021-2022 season. He’s presently a free agent.
Fredette bounced round with a number of NBA groups earlier than taking part in in Greece and China lately. He informed the Desert Information he plans to compete and qualify for the US within the 3×3 basketball competitors within the 2024 Paris Olympics after having received the FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup in Nov 2022.
Jaycee Carroll’s USU jersey
One other professional not taking part in is former Utah State sharpshooter Jaycee Carroll.
The Wyoming native performed professionally in Europe for 13 seasons earlier than stepping away from skilled basketball in 2021. Throughout that point, Carroll was a part of two EuroLeague titles, 5 Spanish League championships, six Kings Cups, six Tremendous Cups and a FIBA Intercontinental Cup Championship.
Carroll, who served a mission in Chile, can have his No. 20 jersey retired in a half-time ceremony in the course of the USU-Nevada recreation on Feb. 18.