Some of the main buzz words used by scouts to describe 2018 NBA draft prospect Collin Sexton include: competitive, tenacious, strong-willed and unshakable.
Projected to be among the top 10 selections – specifically, No. 9 overall by NBADraft.net – once teams are on the clock next June, the Alabama point guard exemplified exactly what makes him special during his performance against Minnesota.
With 13:39 remaining in the second half of the Crimson Tide’s game against the Golden Gophers, a fracas broke out between the two teams. It wasn’t anything that crazy, moreso your typical, run-of-the-mill basketball kerfuffle, featuring a bunch of guys shoving each other without actually intending to inflict physical harm on their opponents.
Except, in all of the excitement, Alabama’s bench rushed onto the court to defend their teammates, thus, earning them all immediate expulsion from the contest. Avery Johnson’s team (yes, for those who don’t know, that Avery Johnson is coaching college basketball now) was down to five men, with almost three-quarters of the second half remaining.
Then they lost another player after he fouled out two minutes later, meaning the Crimson Tide were down to four men.
And then, following an ugly injury, they lost yet another player, meaning they were down to three men for the final 10:41 of the contest.
Luckily for Johnson, one of his remaining players was Sexton, who was seemingly built for this exact type of situation.
The explosive floor general went off for 23 points over the final 10 minutes of the contest, despite finding himself double- or triple-teamed by Minnesota’s swarming defense.
In just that one stretch, Sexton showed off a few of his best traits as a prospect.
Although the 6-foor-2 point guard doesn’t possess an elite jumper (yet, at least), his utmost confidence as a tough-shot maker – one of his biggest strengths as a prep superstar – aided him in nailing two pull-up triples during the impressive run of play.
What’s more, along with Sexton’s pure explosiveness, he also uses unique craftiness to score once he gets near the tin.
Players who can reach 100 mph are great; but those who can hit top speeds, as well as do damage when they have to slow down in traffic are even better.
Sexton can do just that, as he showed while playing three-on-five, exploiting the smallest crevices and turning them into points for Alabama.
The freshman phenom’s explosion brought his team within three points of Minnesota with fewer than two minutes remaining, even though he, and his two teammates, had to be near exhaustion by the end of the contest.
Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino was one of many who spoke glowingly of Sexton after the game.
Sexton doesn’t have great size (just 6-foot-2) or a supreme jump shot, but that hasn’t stopped him from averaging 25.3 points and 4.7 assists per game on 63.4 percent shooting through his first three collegiate outings.
And although the ultimate, storybook ending – a victory for the overmatched Crimson Tide against a fully-equipped Minnesota – didn’t come to fruition, it was still a performance that will stick in the minds of NBA scouts as they gather in their respective war rooms in seven months, discussing who their team should take with their Top 10 selection in June’s draft.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter @frankurbina_.