Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

After only one year, Collin Sexton’s impact on Alabama is palpable

Stephen Alvarez

Collin Sexton only wanted one thing for Christmas when he was five years old.

It wasn’t any type of toy, video game or movie. It was an alarm clock.

He wanted an alarm clock, so he could wake up before school and work on basketball. Even at five years old, the player who earned the nickname “The Young Bull” set out to be the best player in the country.

“We just got it for him,” said Sexton’s father, Darnell. “He set an alarm clock, got up and started doing his ball dexterity work, his shooting form work early in the morning then get ready for school and have a full day of school.”

Sexton’s work ethic began at that age, and it’s no secret that it’s carried him throughout his life.

He became a top-five recruit out of high school. He’s 6-foot-3 and can attack the basket in a blur. 

He picked Alabama to work with former NBA point guard Avery Johnson. One of Johnson’s selling points in recruiting was that he would work with him to make him as prepared for the NBA as he could be. 

No one had to convince Sexton to work hard, however. What they did have to do was convince Sexton to be a normal college kid while in Tuscaloosa.

“Here’s a kid we gotta basically to turn the lights out in the gym sometimes and say ‘go back to the dorm,’” Johnson said ahead of the Crimson Tide’s second game against Auburn in February.

Sexton brought his work ethic to Alabama and it resonated throughout the team. He willed Alabama to an NCAA Tournament bid by averaging 26.3 points in three SEC Tournament games. He then scored 25 to lead Alabama to a win over Virginia Tech in the first round. It Alabama’s first tournament win since 2006.

So, how do you properly size up the impact that one player had on a program in only one year? Well, you could ask Sexton himself, who believes he set an example for his teammates.

“My hard work, because the team, they feed off it,” Sexton said. “They see it. Early mornings, late nights, they see me in the gym working hard and just trying to get better.”

On Friday, Sexton confirmed what everyone already knew was going to happen. He declared for the 2018 NBA Draft.

A projected lottery pick, Sexton’s speed and athleticism make him perfect for the spaced-out style of today’s NBA. The New York Knicks at pick No. 9 and the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 12 are popular mock-draft destinations for Sexton. If selected, he would be the first Alabama player chosen in the NBA Draft since Richard Hendrix in 2008.

His choice of Alabama over the blue-blood destinations like Kansas, Duke or Kentucky marked a change in fortune for the Crimson Tide.

A year later, that choice is proving to not be just a one-time thing. Future recruits noticed that a player like Sexton chose Alabama over those top programs.

“It gets us in the door with players on Collin’s level and the caliber of player he is,” Johnson said. “Not only are we calling recruits, but they’re calling us.”

Sexton earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, averaged 19.3 points per game and broke Alabama’s freshman scoring record. Still, not everyone was a fan. 

Because of Sexton’s aggressive style, many people felt he settled for isolation basketball and that the team would not share the ball as much when Sexton was in the game. Some even said Alabama would be a better team without Sexton.

Johnson set fire to these arguments. He knows the impact Sexton had.

“I think one of the most idiotic things I heard, or I think my staff sent me a story that somebody wrote, that we’re going to better off without Collin Sexton, is one of the most ridiculous things,” Johnson said. “I don’t even know how somebody can still be a sports writer and write something as idiotic as that. The reason we’re going to be better is because of Collin Sexton’s year here at Alabama.”

Moving forward, Alabama is trying to become a “destination” for top recruits like Sexton, according to Johnson. Sexton, along with players like John Petty and Braxton Key two years ago got the ball rolling for Alabama in recruiting.

That is just one of the many facets of his impact in just one year at Alabama. He made Alabama legitimate, and moving forward, Johnson wants more players like Sexton to be fixtures of his program.

“We talked about developing NBA players, maybe potentially recruiting players who were one-and-done. Now it’s all a reality.”

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