Collin Sexton will make Alabama debut in home opener against LipscombBy Matthew Speakman | 11/14/2017 12:38pm
One of Alabama’s most anticipated players will make his debut for Alabama basketball. Five-star freshman Collin Sexton will finally get the chance to play a game in an Alabama uniform against Lipscomb on Tuesday night. On Monday, head coach Avery Johnson confirmed that Sexton will start for Alabama in the team’s home opener.
“(Collin) Sexton will be in the lineup,” Johnson said.
The No. 5 recruit in the country coming out of high school, Sexton sat out Alabama’s opening-game win against Memphis because of a one-game NCAA suspension. Sexton is expected to be one of the 20 best players in the country this season..
Still, Johnson doesn’t want his team relying on Sexton. He knows Alabama’s depth goes beyond just one player.
"We don't want anybody to feel like there is an enormous amount of pressure to be a one-man band,” Johnson said. “We don't need a 40- or 50-point performance to lead us to victory. We have a team and he has a role within that team and we want him to just be himself, but at the same time be exciting."
Sexton’s time at Alabama has been whirlwind so far. He played in two of three exhibition games in Canada, scoring 13 and 15 points, respectively. He also participated in Alabama’s closed scrimmage against Baylor.
Sexton’s eligibility became a question when he was forced to sit out in Alabama’s lone exhibition game against UAH. The NCAA had yet to reinstate Sexton’s eligibility, and many believed it was due to his connection to the resignation of former Alabama staffer Kobie Baker. Two days later, the NCAA gave Sexton a one-game suspension and made him eligible again.
With all of the outside factors, Johnson said Sexton has been handling the situation as well as anyone could.
“He can use it as motivation in the right way, as long as it doesn’t relate to self but has more to do with the team, and I think that’s what he’s all about,” Johnson said. “Not many student-athletes can go through all that he’s gone through- because I know everything he’s been through behind the scenes- and still have that type of attitude where it’s all about the team.”
Alabama missed Sexton in its opening game, but the team also had three other players out due to injury. Forwards Braxton Key and Riley Norris, as well as guard Ar’Mond Davis all have injuries that have kept them out.
Key will be out for close to four weeks. Johnson said Davis continues to be out indefinitely, but provided an encouraging update on Norris.
“Riley’s making some progress,” Johnson said. “He’s going to start practicing, hopefully, later on this week and we’ll see what his availability is either in Brooklyn or the game prior to Brooklyn. But he’s making some progress.”
Despite having four players out, Alabama won a hard-fought battle against Memphis, 82-70. The Crimson Tide had 20 fouls in the first half, but didn’t skip a beat when players off of the bench came in the game.
Forward Donta Hall led the way for Alabama with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Hall said he was impressed with Alabama’s depth. It can be a major key for the Crimson Tide moving forward.
“It just shows that we are pretty deep on the bench,” Hall said. “If one goes down, somebody can step in. There’s no slack.”
Even with the depth Alabama possesses, all eyes will be on Sexton. Fans, media and coaches are ready to see what he can do in his first official collegiate game. Johnson said he’s learned a lot of lessons during his time out.
"I’m really proud of him how he’s matured and the sense of appreciation of having an opportunity to put on that Alabama uniform on tomorrow night,” Johnson said.