By almost any measurement, Thursday will be a historic day for University of Alabama basketball. Avery Johnson arrived in New York City on Wednesday night to be a part of that history.
Johnson will be in the green room on Thursday night along with his star player from the 2018 season, guard Collin Sexton, and the Sexton family, waiting to see just where the flashy star will start his pro career as determined by the NBA Draft.
While there is a range of speculation, some placing Sexton as high as No. 6 and some at one of the Los Angeles Clippers’ two picks, No. 12 and No. 13, there is no question that Sexton will erase several long streaks and, Johnson hopes, begin a new era in which Alabama is more consistently present on draft day.
Barring some shocking last-second development, Sexton will become:
• The first Alabama chosen in the draft since Richard Hendrix went in the second round in 2008.
• The first Crimson Tide player chosen in the first round since Gerald Wallace was chosen No. 25 overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2001.
• The highest draft pick from Alabama since Antonio McDyess was the No. 2 overall choice (by the Los Angeles Clippers, who traded him to Denver) in the 1995 draft.
The spotlight will be on Sexton, but Johnson is there to lend support.
“When I landed in New York, I landed as a proud dad in a sense,” Johnson said via telephone on Wednesday night. “He’s one of my kids, one of my players getting drafted. But it’s not about me, it’s about Collin and his parents and all the hard work that they have put in to get him to this point.”
Sexton will not be the only SEC player to go in the first round, although he may get the most attention in media-mad New York if the Knicks make him the No. 9 overall pick. Other SEC players considered consensus first-round selections by the prominent mock drafts include Missouri forward Michael Porter, Jr., Texas A&M forward Robert Williams and the Kentucky duo of wing Kevin Knox and point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.