TUSCALOOSA — Collin Sexton’s decision has been made for a long time.
In fact, it came to him as a message from above.
“One day after church, he said, ‘You know what dad, God told me I’m going to have an opportunity to play in the (NBA) someday,’” Sexton’s father, Darnell, said Friday. “And I was like, ‘Hey, if He told you, there’s no denying it here.’”
Sexton was just 4 years old at the time.
Fifteen years later, Sexton made that declaration a reality when Alabama’s All-American freshman point guard formally announced his intentions to enter the 2018 NBA Draft during a ceremony Friday morning in front of family and friends.
“Growing up, you always want to make it to the NBA,” Sexton said, “that’s everybody’s goal, to make it to the NBA.”
Sexton became the Crimson Tide’s first-ever freshman to forgo his collegiate eligibility and turn pro since the 2005 inception of the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule, and he could be the last with the league contemplating altering its draft eligibility requirements.
“It’s only one year, but if you look at his one year and what he did for Alabama basketball, I’d think he’d be at the top” in terms of legacy and mark left on the program, Alabama head basketball coach Avery Johnson said Friday.
Sexton said neither he nor his family have hired an agent, but are currently going through that process and fully expect to in the near future. Once Sexton hires representation, he official forfeits the remainder of his college eligibility.
“Not right now, we’re going through the process on to the final one, but soon,” Sexton said of hiring an agent.
While his decision wasn’t particularly difficult, Sexton he had conversations with Alabama head coach Avery Johnson, athletic director Greg Byrne and his family before ultimately telling his teammates of his intentions Monday.
“They were very excited,” Sexton said. “I felt the love in the room, and they knew what was best for me going forward.”
Sexton, who helped lead the Crimson Tide back to the NCAA Tournament after a five-year absence with one of the best single-season efforts in program history, is considered a sure-fire NBA lottery pick and could to draw a significant endorsement deal from Nike or other prominent shoe appeal companies.
But none of those things are currently on his mind, not when he’s busy preparing his body for the next level, all while continuing to pursue his education at Alabama.
“I just wake up, work out and go to school, that’s my job right now,” Sexton said.
Sexton is currently projected to be one of the top guards to come off the board according to multiple mock drafts, and could go as high as No. 8 to the Chicago Bulls, according to NBADraft.net, No. 9 to the New York Knicks by ESPN.com, and No. 12 to the Los Angeles Clippers by Sports Illustrated.
Of course, Sexton’s performance over the next few months leading up to the June 21 draft could propel him up even further up NBA draft boards.
“I think at some of his individual workouts, he’s going to blow a lot of these general managers and presidents and coaches away,” Johnson said of Sexton. “His style fits (the NBA). I went to a game last week at the Final Four and the (San Antonio) Spurs played against Oklahoma, and my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘Collin can play in this game.’ His style of game, his speed, it translates to the NBA.”
Sexton said he models his game after prominent NBA point guards Russell Westbrook, “because of the passion he plays with,” Chris Paul for “the poise that he has running the point,” as well as Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson, “because of the heart he plays the game.”
“That’s how I play every time on the court,” Sexton said.
A native of Mableton, Ga., Sexton averaged 19.2 points per game to rank second in the SEC, while adding 3.8 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists per game. Sexton also led the Crimson Tide in in field goals made (196) and attempted (438), along with free throws made (196) and attempted (252).
Sexton’s 632 points this past season were third all-time in Alabama program history, setting the Crimson Tide freshman single-season scoring record in the process. In addition to his scoring mark, Sexton set a new school record for free throws made in a season and is fourth in program history in free throws attempted.
Sexton is the second player in Alabama history to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors, joining former standout Mo Williams who earned the honor in 2002. An honorable mention on the Associated Press All-American team, Sexton was also tabbed as a second-team All-SEC performer and earned a spot in the league’s all-freshman team.
“The reason we’re going to be better next year is because of Collin Sexton’s year at Alabama,” Johnson said. “The reason why we’re going to be better next year is because he helped catapult us into the Tournament, which gave the players that are returning some real NCAA experience. So his impact from making the decision to come to Alabama is going to be a major part of his legacy and our basketball program moving forward.”
Alabama Crimson Tide junior Donta Hall and freshman Herbert Jones talk about Collin Sexton’s coast-to-coast game winner in Thursday’s 71-70 win over Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Duane Rankin/Montgomery Advertiser