Former University of Alabama guard Collin Sexton became the first Crimson Tide player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 17 years when the Cleveland Cavaliers chose him with the eighth pick of Thursday night’s draft.
Almost as soon as the choice was announced, Sexton began fielding questions about the possibility of playing with LeBron James. The Cavalier superstar is expected to decide next week if he will return to Cleveland or opt for another team in free agency.
“LeBron, let’s do it,” Sexton said on the ESPN draft broadcast. “I see you need a few pieces. … Let’s do it.”
Sexton becomes the 15th Alabama player to be chosen in the first round and is the fourth top-10 selection in program history, joining Antonio McDyess (No. 2 overall in 1995), Derrick McKey (No. 9 overall in 1987) and Leon Douglas (No. 4 overall in 1976).
“I’m very excited. I’m glad the Cavs picked me at No. 8,” Sexton said. “When I was working out for them, I felt like that was one of my better workouts, probably one of my best workouts actually. So I’m very excited to be a part of the organization.”
With his selection, Sexton is the first Crimson Tide men’s basketball player selected in the NBA Draft since Richard Hendrix was chosen in the second round in 2008 and the first Alabama player since Gerald Wallace in 2001 (No. 25 overall) to be selected in the first round.
“It means a whole lot just because he’s one of the best players to ever play basketball,” Sexton said of having LeBron James as a teammate. “Just being able to come in and learn from him, it’ll be big for me and big for my growth.”
Sexton was chosen as co-Freshman of the Year in the SEC for the 2017-18 season. He scored 632 points and led Alabama with 19.2 points per game. It was the third-most points in a single season in Alabama history and the most ever for a freshman. The previous record had been 16.8 points per game, set by James Robinson in 1990-91. He also finished the season with a team-high 119 assists, good for 3.6 per game.
He was second in school history with 252 free throws attempted in a single season and set the school record by making 196 of them. He scored 40 points in a loss to Minnesota on Nov. 25, the eighth-most scored by a single player in a game in school history.
Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson was in New York for the draft, and Sexton spoke about what it meant to have Johnson, an NBA veteran, as a mentor.
“Man, he taught me a whole lot on the court as well as off the court, but on the court he taught me how to run the pick-and-roll, also how to make sure my teammates and everybody was in the flow of the game,” Sexton said. “Off the court, he always just told me be respectful to everybody, and also just make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings because you never know what’s happening around you.”