The University of Alabama won’t be at full strength when it opens its 2017-18 men’s college basketball season against Memphis on Friday — but it will at least start with a sense of relief.
The Crimson Tide learned Thursday afternoon that freshman point guard Collin Sexton would not be eligible for the game against the Tigers but that his NCAA-imposed hiatus would last only one game and that his eligibility would then be restored in time for Tuesday’s home opener against Lipscomb.
“Collin Sexton will sit out of Friday’s season opener against Memphis to serve a one-game suspension for a violation of NCAA rules,” Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne said. “He will be eligible for competition in the team’s home opener on Tuesday versus Lipscomb. We appreciate the NCAA’s efforts to reach a timely resolution of his eligibility.”
Sexton’s name appeared in connection with an ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball as the subject of a meeting between former UA administrator Kobie Baker, a representative of a potential financial advisor and Sexton’s father. Sources indicated to The Tuscaloosa News the Sextons had to pay restitution for one meal as a condition for the players’ reinstatement.
The immediate concern for UA, despite its relief, is the fact it will be facing Memphis without four potential starters — Sexton and injured players Braxton Key (knee), Riley Norris (hip) and Ar’Mond Davis (knee) whose injury may sideline him “indefinitely,” according to UA head coach Avery Johnson.
Memphis will also be experimenting with its lineup. Only two scholarship players return to coach Tubby Smith’s Tigers, who will have 10 newcomers on the roster.
Alabama will likely have several new faces in the playing rotation due to injuries. Freshman guard John Petty is a likely starter and freshman swingman Herb Jones could start as well. Sophomore Dazon Ingram will be the point guard, backed up by senior Avery Johnson, Jr. On the inside, Alabama will rely on junior Donta Hall and 6-foot-10 Ohio State transfer Daniel Giddens. In last Monday’s exhibition win over UAH, Giddens led the team with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Whether we are successful or not, it won’t be for a lack of effort,” Johnson said. “We still have a lot of versatility.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.
Alabama vs. Memphis
When: 5:30 p.m. CT, Friday, Nov. 10
Where: Alumni Hall, Annapolis, Md.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 102.9 FM