Sam Merrill had been committed to Utah State for more than a year. It will be 2016 before he plays his first minutes there.
But signing his National Letter of Intent brought a surprising amount of heft. It signified that some day, he’ll play in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum where he grew up watching college basketball and rooting for the Aggies.
Officially signed to Utah State
Player Pos. School Height
Sam Merrill* G Bountiful 6-4
David Collette** F Murray 6-8
Expected to sign
Henry Bolton G St. Andrews (R.I.) 6-2
Julion Pearre G McKinney North (Texas) 6-3
Darius Perkins G Miami Dade JC (Fla.) 6-2
Chris Smith G Yuba College 6-4
*Serving LDS Church mission out of high school
**Returning from LDS Church mission
"It’s actually happening," he said. "It’s been very humbling to think I’m going to play there, even if it’s a ways away."
The 6-foot-4 Bountiful guard was one of a number of recruits Utah State expected to sign Wednesday in a guard-heavy 2014 class. The program only officially confirmed receiving NLIs from Merrill, who will serve an LDS Church mission, and forward David Collette, who is returning from a mission.
But Utah State will also add prep guards Julion Pearre and Henry Bolton while including Chris Smith and Darius Perkins out of the junior college ranks. All four acknowledge to the Tribune that they had signed or were planning to sign Tuesday.
"I feel like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders," said Darius Perkins, a 6-foot-2 guard from Miami Dade junior college. "I have another home after I’m done with junior college. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time."
The four who Utah State had yet to announce Wednesday afternoon are all from out of state, committing after visiting Logan this fall. The incoming class will fill needs at guard with the forthcoming graduations of seniors Preston Medlin, Spencer Butterfield and TeNale Roland.
The Aggies coaching staff anticipates bringing in a group that can be versatile scorers. Both Perkins and Smith were among the leading scorers for their junior college programs as freshmen, while Bolton and Pearre could develop down the road into valuable backcourt pieces.
Collette is no stranger to the Aggies, redshirting at Utah State before going on his mission. A standout scorer at Murray, he will be the lone frontcourt addition in the 2014 season — barring any late additions in the spring.
Merrill will be stashed away for two years, but he is perhaps one of the strongest players in the class. He averaged 18.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game as a junior for the Braves.
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