With dozens of basketball leagues around the world, it only makes sense that at least a handful of Latter-day Saints would find their way onto the courts of professional teams. Here are twelve Latter-day Saints who are playing professionally and making a difference for their NBA G League and international professional teams around the world.
Former Utah State University Aggie Sam Merrill was final pick of the 2020 NBA draft. Merrill spent his rookie year in Milwaukee and was part of the Bucks’ 2021 championship team. After spending time on the rosters of the Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, Merrill was the first pick of the NBA G League draft by the Cleveland Charge where he is currently playing. Merrill served a full-time mission in Nicaragua and told Church News, “I always tell people nothing I do on a basketball court will ever be as hard as the experience that I went through there. I can run and run and do conditioning, all this stuff, but the mission was very, very hard from a physical and emotional standpoint. The ups and downs of that certainly apply to what I’m trying to do here.”
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Merrill’s former teammate at Utah State Justin Bean is currently playing for the Memphis Hustle in the NBA G League. He has averaged 10 points, 6.6 rebounds, and one assist per game so far this season. Bean served a full-time mission for the Church in Reno, Nevada, and is a descendant of “The Fighting Preacher,” Willard Bean.
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Former Duke University and Lone Peak High School player Frank Jackson is averaging 20.5 points a game for the Salt Lake City Stars. Jackson previously played for New Orleans and Detroit in the NBA.
BYU alum Eric Mika served a full-time mission in Rome, Italy, before playing for the G League Stockton Kings in the 2019-20 season and then professionally in Italy, Germany, China, Serbia, and France. So far this season, Mika has averaged 2.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and three assists a game for the G League’s Ignite in Henderson, Nevada.
The son of former NBA player Thurl Bailey, Brendan Bailey is currently averaging 18.1 points a game for Sweden’s BC Lulea. Bailey served his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, D.C., and played college basketball at Marquette.
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Yoeli Childs is currently a starting forward for the Veolia Towers Hamburg in Germany and averages 11 points per game. The BYU alum previously played in his home state for the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. His Instagram bio includes the bullet “Follower of Jesus Christ” and a link to the Church’s video, “What is The Book of Mormon?”
Former BYU star Kyle Collinsworth currently plays for the San-En NeoPhoenix in Japan’s B1 League. Previously Collinsworth played in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks. His wife is former BYU All-America track star Shea Martinez, and he served a full-time Church mission in Russia.
BYU alum Brandon Davies saw action in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, professional teams in Spain, Lithuania, and Monaco, before he landed his current gig with Italy’s Olimpia Milano. He has pinned a scripture from the Book of Mormon, Alma 26:12, on his Twitter account.
Connor Harding, who played for Utah Valley University and BYU, now plays for WWU Baskets Münster in the BARMER ProA Bundesliga in Münster, Germany. Harding served a mission for the Church in Atlanta, Georgia. His wife, former BYU women’s basketball star Paisley Johnson Harding, also currently plays professionally for the GiroLive-Panthers Osnabrück.
Former BYU basketball player Zac Seljaas is currently on the roster for Germany’s Tigers Tuebingen. He has also played professionally for teams in the Czech Republic and Georgia. Seljaas served a Church mission in Iowa. He and his wife Kate have two young boys.
Parker Van Dyke
Former University of Utah guard Parker Van Dyke starts and averages 16.5 points a game for the Romerstrom Gladiators Trier of German’s ProA League. The Utah native served a mission for the Church in Alabama.
Former BYU Cougar Elijah Bryant currently plays for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, averaging 16 points a game. He was a key contributor to the team when they won the EuroLeague crown in 2022 and previously helped Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli League title as part of their roster in 2020. Bryant and Sam Merrill (listed above) were also on the roster together when Milwaukee defeated Phoenix in the NBA finals in 2021.
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You can read more about each of these players on Church News.