Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton has made strides during his second season in the NBA, as he’s now averaging 19.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 threes and 1.0 steal (while shooting 46.0 percent from the field).
Last weekend, Sexton shined in the Rising Stars Challenge, finishing the event with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 threes and a number of highlight plays. HoopsHype had a chance to sit down with Sexton at MTN DEW’s Courtside Studios in Chicago and discuss his development, the Cavs’ recent acquisition of Andre Drummond, his off-court interests and more.
When you’re participating in All-Star Weekend and experiencing the festivities, how inspiring is that and does it make you want to become an All-Star even more?
Collin Sexton: Oh yeah, it’s definitely exciting. It just gives me even more fuel, even more motivation. That all rushes back to me. I’m hungry for it. I want to experience this again, so I’m just going to work that much harder so I can become a real All-Star.
How much do you feel your game has developed from when you entered the league to now? How much progress have you made?
CS: A lot. A lot. It’s night and day. I feel like I’ve gotten better in pretty much every aspect of the game and I’m just going to continue to work, continue to get better, continue to watch film and continue to do all of the little things that are going to help me in the long run.
Your Cavaliers just recently acquired Andre Drummond prior to the trade deadline. What do you make of that acquisition and the impact Drummond can have on this team?
CS: It’s amazing, just knowing that we have a big man down there who’s going to block shots, run the floor and dunk. It’s amazing, and it’ll allow us on defense to be a lot more aggressive and be into the ball because we know that we have a big guy back there who can block shots. It’ll be good. Also, he cleans up and rebounds everything.
What’s it been like getting to know each other and trying to develop that chemistry midseason?
CS: He’s really cool. He’s cool. I really like him. I’m still trying to understand his game because I’ve only had two games with him, so… you know how it goes. We haven’t had a practice either!
I don’t think most people realize just how little practice time there is in the NBA.
CS: Yeah, teams really don’t have time to practice. When you combine the practices with the 82 games, that’s a lot when you think about it. At first, getting used to the schedule was an adjustment. Coming from college, you only play about 30 games. Then, you come to the NBA and you’re playing 82, so it was night and day. But you really start to understand your body and understand the things that you can and can’t do – like you have to make sure that you’re getting a lot of sleep, getting a lot of rest, eating the right foods and stuff like that. It was an adjustment, but you definitely get used to it.
Who were some of the veterans who had the biggest impact on you and mentored you the most – whether it’s on or off the court.
CS: K-Love, Chris Paul and Coach Avery Johnson. Those guys, they’ve been where I want to get to. I just take bits and pieces of their game so that I can learn from them and understand the game even more. My relationship with Chris goes back to high school when I played on his teams (Team CP3). Ever since then, we’ve just been building that relationship. I talk to him every week and just pick his brain and figure out how he feels about certain plays and things that I can incorporate into my game. It’s cool.
Which point guards did you look up to the most when you were growing up?
CS: My favorites were Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. Those two are my guys. I got a chance to sit down with Kobe and talk to him for about 40-to-45 minutes, just picking his brain. It was cool. I’m [glad] that I got to meet him before the tragedy. But it was cool, just being able to sit down with Kobe Bryant – one of the best to ever play – and being able to ask him pretty much anything. We talked about everything.
What are some aspects of your game that you’d like to improve the most?
CS: I want to continue to become a better playmaker. Also, I want to continue to just lead – leading by example and leading my teammates in the right direction so that we can just continue to win more games.
Off the court, what was it like adjusting to Cleveland over the last year and a half?
CS: It’s nice! I like Cleveland because it’s very cool and very slow motion. The only thing is, it’s just so cold. It feels like Chicago. I’m from Atlanta, so that’s definitely been an adjustment – you already know.
Over the years, I’ve talked to some other Cavs players about how they felt like the team was constantly being overlooked and not getting any national recognition because they played in a smaller market. Do you feel the same way?
CS: Oh yeah, I definitely feel like that, but that just means we need to have a different chip on our shoulder, so that we can do what it takes to get that recognition and get out there. I’ve been having a chip on my shoulder all my life and I’m going to continue to. That’s just how I play; I play hard. Each night when I go out there, I’m going to give it my all. That’s it.
What are some of your off-court interests?
CS: I’m just a very chill person. I like music, movies and relaxing with my family. I’m not really into going out and stuff like that. I don’t do that, I just chill.
Favorite movie and favorite artist?
CS: My favorite movie is “Drumline” and my favorite artists, I would say, are J. Cole and Chance the Rapper. I got to talk to Chance last night for 10-15 minutes after the [Rising Stars] game, which was cool.