Collin Sexton Shows His Importance to Alabama in Much Anticipated Debut

Posted by David Changas on November 16th, 2017

It might have come a game late and after a significant amount of nervousness about whether it would even happen, but Collin Sexton’s debut for Alabama earlier this week was well worth the wait. After being forced to sit out the Crimson Tide’s exhibition contest and opening night win over Memphis because of eligibility questions, the most significant basketball recruit to arrive in Tuscaloosa in many years finally took the court. And he did not disappoint, leading Alabama to a comfortable 86-64 win in its home opener over a pesky Lipscomb club. Sexton led the team with 22 points and five assists in 27 minutes of action, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Beyond the tangible impact he had on the play of the Crimson Tide, he also exhibited leadership and fired up a Coleman Coliseum crowd that was a bit larger than what usually shows up in the middle of November. The focus is almost entirely on football at Alabama this time of year, but Sexton’s debut was enough of a draw so that those in attendance could forget about pigskin for a few hours.

Collin Sexton’s debut against Lipscomb Tuesday night lived up to the hype. (University of Alabama)

Sexton — who had been the subject of an FBI investigation into the sport — was not ruled eligible until just before the Crimson Tide took the floor against Memphis in Annapolis last Friday. He sat out that game, but it felt like a reprieve for a program that was facing the possibility that he may not have been ruled eligible at any point this season. After all, the school’s basketball administrator, Kobie Baker, resigned in September after an FBI complaint revealed that he accepted money in an effort to influence Sexton’s father to sign with a particular financial advisor. Had that been the case, the excitement for a season that fans have been anxiously looking forward to would have been significantly dampened.

Alabama fans have waited a long time to be this excited about basketball, as head coach Avery Johnson signed a top-10 recruiting class considered by many to be the best in the history of the school. But it is a class that would have also been a lot more ordinary without the services of Sexton, who was rated by 247Sports as the fifth-best player in the country. There certainly are other nice pieces here too, including top-100 players John Petty and Alex Reese, but Sexton is unquestionably the crown jewel. Now that he is eligible, he is already showing that he can become the difference-maker everyone expected. Because of his elite talent, he is the already the Crimson Tide’s best player and most important leader. Projected by many outlets to be a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the versatile 6’2″ guard brings tremendous athleticism, quickness and shooting ability to a team that struggled mightily on the offensive end last season.

His presence is especially needed at the moment, as sophomore standout Braxton Key recovers from meniscus surgery (return date unknown), and senior forward Riley Norris continues to miss action with a hip injury. With those two eventually joining Sexton and the other promising Alabama freshman, there is plenty of reason to believe that the Crimson Tide will be in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 and possibly win a game or two for the first time since 2006. The wait for a return to relevance has a long time coming in Tuscaloosa, but if Sexton’s performance on Tuesday was any indication, it will not last much longer.

David Changas (166 Posts)

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