Bama Hoops Hype

Superb Sexton Flourishes in Nike Hoops Summit

Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

The Team USA Junior-Select team escaped the World team with a 98-87 victory in a very competitive Nike Hoop Summit game that featured some of the top young talent in the world.  Team USA found success throughout the game thanks to an incredibly long and athletic group of players who were able to press high up the court and force turnovers while demonstrating incredible range on their jump shots.

Miles Simon was the man in charge of Team USA, consisting of the top high school seniors in the class of 2017.  A class headlined by Michael Porter Jr., the number one ranked player in the ESPN top 100, team USA was loaded with talent.  Simon lead the team into a packed Moda Center in Portland, Oregon for the match-up against a World team consisting of the top U-19 players from across the Globe, one of the best World teams we have seen in this competition so far.  The game was played under FIBA rules – Four 10-minute quarters, 24 second shot clock, and relaxed rules on basket interference – which lead to a high-flying fast-paced match up that saw team USA living off intensity early.

Collin Sexton was not in the starting line-up for this game, but found action early on due to a Trevon Duval injury early in the first quarter.  The commentators for the evening – Kevin Brown, Paul Biancardi, and Sean Farnham – were immediately lifted when Sexton checked into the game.  All in agreement that this could quickly turn into the Collin Sexton show.

Sexton is the crown jewel of this Alabama recruiting class, ranking 10th in the ESPN top 100 and immediately made his presence known on the defensive side of the floor.  Pressing high up the court, Sexton picked up early fouls on a couple of choice calls due to his physical style of play.

Offensively, Sexton started the game slow putting up a few ill-advised shots early, trying to force himself into a rhythm.  He understands his ability, so it appears he was trying too hard to put on the show he knows he is capable of.  However, like all great players know how to do, Sexton found other ways to make his mark on the game when his shots weren’t falling.  This versatility is going to mean great things for the Alabama program that in the past has had issues on the scoring end.  Sexton orchestrated the offense extremely well and played incredible hard-nosed defense, losing his man only once on a screen that lead to an open three.

Really ignited his game at the four-minute mark in the second quarter, Sexton completed an alley-oop to Kentucky commit Jarred Vanderbilt, before immediately stealing the inbounds pass and finishing the layup to spark a quick 9-0 run for team USA.  He finished the half with a long alley-oop pass to M.J. Walker that erupted the crowd once again.

The second half played out very similar to the first, with both teams trading baskets until team USA was able to pull away in the final few minutes to come away with their 98-87 victory.  This game highlighted Sexton’s ability to flourish in a fast-paced high intensity offense where he has the freedom to get out and go.  While Sexton’s shooting suffered on the evening – seven points from a meager 3-10 from the field where most, if not all, of his points came in the paint – he proved once again that he has the ability to make plays in several other areas of the game.

Sexton was a catalyst for this team USA offense.  His court vision seems to be his greatest asset, finishing the game with six assists that were far from ordinary.  Sexton put his own touch of class on several jaw-dropping alley-oops throughout the contest that brought the entire crowd to its feet, cementing his identity as Avery Johnson’s new highlight factory.  Sexton also came away with four steals and four rebounds that demonstrated his versatility as not only a perimeter defender but also as a strong presence down-low when needed.

This year’s Nike Hoops Summit has given great confidence for fans of Alabama Basketball.  The performance from Sexton is showing signs of a bright future for the Tide with many analysts already making predictions for the Tide’s chances of making the big dance next season.  The addition of John Petty can only increase the potential of this Crimson Tide team and after a game like this, Avery Johnson must be licking his chops to get his hands on these kids.

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Men’s Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Instagram, via @johnathananderson_ and Twitter, via @JohnathanA_.

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