BOZICH | Kentucky's next job: Stop the SEC's quickest guard, Collin Sexton
For once in the John Calipari Era, the best freshman point guard in the SEC does not play for Kentucky. UK must stop Collin Sexton of Alabama to advance to the SEC Tournament final.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (WDRB) – Collin Sexton is John Wall. Sexton is Brandon Knight. He is De’Aaron Fox, Tyler Ulis, Andrew Harrison.
Collin Sexton is the most dynamic freshman point guard in the Southeastern Conference – or perhaps the country, depending upon how many times Trae Young turns the ball over the next time Young plays.
Sexton is the kind of ridiculously swift and skilled point guard that John Calipari has always summoned to Lexington.
But Sexton plays for Alabama – and he is guy Kentucky will have to defend if the Wildcats expect to advance to the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament because as the field at the Scottrade Center has narrowed to four teams, Sexton is the leader for the Most Outstanding Player here.
“Well, I didn't watch the (Alabama-Auburn) game, and I didn't really see,” Calipari said. “But somebody just said he made five in a row from the three, went crazy, went off. So I imagine that he really played well. And I know how good he is.”
Consider Sexton a bit of a snapshot of the shifting vibe in the SEC this season. Kentucky did not dominate with its usual supply of four of the league’s 10 best players . That begins to explain why the Wildcats (22-10) finished tied for fourth, not first, in the league.
It does not explain how Alabama, with Sexton, started this tournament as the nine seed with 14 defeats.
After the Wildcats punished Georgia, 62-49, in the quarter-finals Friday afternoon, the quickest way to generate furrowed brows in the UK locker room was to ask Calipari’s players if Sexton was the quickest guard in America.
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Quade Green, Kentucky’s freshman point guard. “No.”
“He’s been playing really well,” said UK forward Wenyen Gabriel. “He’s been at an elite level. He’s got that dog in him. I admire that in him. We’re going to have to go bring it to him.”
Sexton has certainly looked the part – blitzing through the Texas A&M defense untouched for a game-winning finger roll Thursday and then burying league champion Auburn with 31 points during an easy, 81-63, Crimson Tide victory Friday.
There is a reason Sexton has been nicknamed the “Young Bull,” and projected as a top 10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The videos have already been cut.
Is Sexton the quickest college guard in America?
“We’re quick ourselves,” UK guard Hamidou Diallo said. “I wouldn’t say he’s the quickest. We’ve got some quick guards on our team. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”
“I’ve seen him since the 10th grade,” Green said. “Got crazy pride. Go hard on the court. Joke around off the court.
“(But) I would say probably Trae Young (is the quickest guard). He’s very quick.”
A quick footnote: Usually, I’d expect a player with Sexton’s skills to play for Kentucky, not Alabama.
But a source told me that Kentucky inquired early about recruiting Sexton and then moved on to other point guards. The Wildcats were considerably more involved with John Petty, another Alabama freshman guard, than Sexton, who grew up in suburban Atlanta.
The Alabama staff was one of the first to recruit him. His family is based about three hours from Tuscaloosa. Sexton trusted that Bama coach Avery Johnson, a former NBA point guard, coach and analyst, could develop him into a first-round pick.
The results have been there the last two days as Alabama has played its way into the NCAA field. But do not forget that Bama lost its last five regular season games, starting with a 10-point Kentucky win in Rupp Arena Feb. 17.
Sexton was just OK that day, missing all four of his shots from distance while scoring 12 points. If you check the box score at Ken Pomeroy’s web site, Green, who scored 12 points with four assists and no turnovers for Kentucky, was selected as the MVP of that game.
“We’ve got to stop him,” Green said. “He’s the key to their team.”
“He’s a great player,” Diallo said. “We played against him so we know he’s a great player. We’ve just got to come out with a different level of energy and come out defending him and making sure we’re on point.”
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