More on Utah State basketball's 2014 signing class
We did a round-up of Utah State basketball's signees on Wednesday the expected ones were confirmed officially on Thursday but there's more to the story than some signatures on a fax.
Here's a little more to the story about each recruit's Signing Day, what it meant to them, and what they'll be doing for the next few months (hint: playing basketball). With the exception of David Collette, who is on his mission, and Chris Smith, who is busy in midseason, here's a more in-depth look at what went down Wednesday:
• Sam Merrill got a chance to go in front of his high school for a Signing Day ceremony. The main reason he wanted to do it was to give a chance for those who have supported his career through the years.
His parents, his high school coaches at Bountiful and AAU coaches with Utah Prospects. His schoolmates. One of his coaches, Peter Harrison, worked out Merrill, Brekkott Chapman and Abel Porter all summer as they strived to improve their games.
"That was one of the main reasons I wanted to do it," he said. "So many of those people, they have such a big part in all this happening."
Bountiful's next high school season will start soon, and practice has begun. Merrill is the team's star point guard, and hopes to carry them a to a championship for the first time in his career. He knows some of his competition could be his AAU teammates, not the least of which is Chapman, a power forward who signed with the Utes.
Merrill was the first Aggie in the class to commit, beating the others by about a year. He said it was thrilling to finally sign with the program he grew up rooting for. It was easy to never waiver.
"When Coach Morrill offered me, he said, 'We're making a commitment to you, and we're going to keep it. If you happen to commit to us, we're counting on your commitment,'" Merrill said. "I wasn't going to switch."
• Darius Perkins had only a quiet day at Miami-Dade junior college. His family was working on Wednesday, so his teammates offered congratulations for him as he signed his long-awaited letter of intent.
"When I gave my commitment, that was me being a man of my word," he said. "I'm really into Utah State. Nobody was going to change that."
Last Friday, Perkins was eager to see what would happen in the Aggies' season opener against USC, but he had a game himself. After his game, he checked the box score and was excited to see that Utah State had put the Trojans to bed.
So far, Perkins said, his team is doing well, too. Perkins said as of Wednesday that Miami Dade was 4-0, and he was averaging 21 points per game. The Sharks are the No. 8-ranked JC program in Florida at the moment, he said.
Last year, the guard lost the second half of his season due to academic woes. This year, he said, he doesn't expect that to happen.
"I've been putting too much pressure on myself," he said. "That's never going to happen. I'm trying to hold myself higher to help the team."
• Julion Pearre learned he couldn't sign his NLI before 7 a.m., and they immediately realized he had to wait. All day.
Leaving his house before that hour, he went through class and basketball practice with the thought of that letter rattling around in his mind. It was only when he got home late Wednesday that he was able to sign his NLI, and his father faxed it off to Utah State.
"It lingered around in my head and stayed on my mind," he said. "I've been watching the last few games and I really like what I see. The coaches have been showing me a lot of love. I never really thought about going anywhere else. I really like everyone there."
Pearre said there wasn't a school signing event Wednesday, but that McKinney North was planning one for Monday.
He's got things to worry about anyway: Texas basketball has already begun. McKinney North just barely escaped Frisco Liberty on Tuesday night, and Pearre had 18 points. He has an unusual role on the team as one of its biggest guards, playing basically 2-guard on offense, but going up against bigger forwards.
Pearre said he has a game on Friday, and is looking forward to what his senior-laden team can accomplish this year.
• Henry Bolton sent his NLI Wednesday morning. At St. Andrews, Bolton's closest family is his teammates and coaches, and they shared the moment with him.
"Looks like the final step," he said in an interview with the Tribune less than an hour after he sent his fax. "We were just at the post office. My teammates celebrated a little bit."
Bolton said the month since his commitment bolstered his ties with Utah State. They have been in "constant communication" and letting him know what has been going on and what they expect him to do this year.
The season hasn't begun yet for St. Andrews - Bolton said the team's first game is Dec. 4. But he's been encouraged by what he's seen from the Aggies early on.
"I caught a few minutes of that game, and it's definitely exciting," he said. "They're out there beating known teams."