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Collin Sexton is the Prospect to Watch in March

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Collin Sexton has Kemba Walker 2.0 potential all over him. Can he become the latest star guard of March?

With the NCAA tournament on the horizon, all eyes turn to the college game, especially for the furious first 4 days. As an NBA fan who might not follow the college game closely, the goal is to watch either the best games (UPSETS!) or the best draft prospects that will be in the league next year.

Collin Sexton and the Alabama Crimson Tide will fill both of those categories. Sexton has been electrifying all season while wowing scouts with his incredible intangibles. Beyond the intangibles, Sexton has put up some pretty solid numbers all year long. Sexton has averaged 19 points, three assists, and three rebounds per game throughout the season while shooting 34% from deep and 78% from the free throw line on 7.5 attempts per game. Sexton has done most of his damage on offense as a primary scorer, scoring 20 or more 15 times in 31 games, including two 30 point games and one 40 point game.

Sexton started grabbing headlines last week because of his strong performance in the SEC tournament, generating two huge wins for Alabama that secured them an NCAA tournament spot. Sexton put up 27 and shot 50% from three-point land against Texas A&M, capping the performance going coast-to-coast for a game-winning floater. He followed that up with a 31 points performance against their rivals and my alma mater, the Auburn Tigers. Sexton scored 21 of his 31 in the second half to bring Alabama back from a 10-point halftime deficit to an 18-point victory. Sexton attacked the basket furiously all game while also hitting 6 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Sexton’s game is filled with attributes that make him the perfect guy to watch in March. He is extremely athletic and drives to the basket relentlessly. He elevates his game during the biggest games and does shy away from the moment, rather taking the Russell Westbrook tactic and busting through the window of opportunity. Sexton is bolstered by an Alabama team that does one thing extremely well, which is playing defense. Alabama ranks 13th on kenpom.com for defensive rating, similar to the Kemba Walker UCONN team which was 15th in defensive rating during the 2011 season.

With all that in mind, the Tide do have one of the tougher draws in the tournament. They open the tournament at 9:20 eastern against Virginia Tech, a scrappy athletic team that can and will push them to the edge. If Sexton can lead Alabama past VT, they will likely have Villanova waiting for them in the 2nd round and a win there, however unlikely would deliver either West Virginia or Wichita State to them in the Sweet Sixteen. Sexton will have a tough road ahead but any win he notches in his belt will boost his draft stock. A strong enough performance could even fault him into the top 5, we have seen in the past how tournament performances have captured the hearts of some NBA owners and lead them to go out of their way to make deals to get those players even if it negatively affects their team. Kemba’s run in 2011 and his flurry of heroics is burned into my memory and Collin Sexton could capture the same spark for Alabama, so don’t miss a single minute of their games.

 

Don’t like Alabama and Sexton? Here is one other guard in the East bracket to draw your interest.

A lesser-known name that could also use the tournament as a vehicle to secure better draft position is Landry Shamet of Wichita State. Shamet currently sits as a late first round, early second round prospect and is outside of the knowledge of most casual NCAA or NBA fans. Shamet has been a key cog in another excellent season for the Shockers, they have earned a 4 seed and are a threat to go deep in the tournament. Shamet is the best player on the Shockers. He is a 6-4 combo guard who showed the ability to do battle with De’Aaron Fox in their matchup with Kentucky in the tournament last year. Shamet isn’t super athletically gifted but more than makes up for it with basketball IQ and versatility. He takes care of the ball and can run the offense from either the 1 or 2 position. Look for him to make the big plays for the Shockers and guide them against the trapping defense of West Virginia in the second round. A march to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight for the Shockers could launch Shamet into fringe lottery territory and put him in position to be a first round gem for the NBA team that drafts him.

About Brooks Ohman

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