Cavs select Alabama guard Collin Sexton 8th in NBA Draft

Sexton averaged 19.2 points and 3.6 assists last season for the Tide

Daryl Ruiter
June 21, 2018 - 8:25 pm
Collin Sexton (Alabama) greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number eight overall pick to the Cleveland CAvaliers in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Judging by his wardrobe Thursday night in Brooklyn, Collin Sexton seemed to have a pretty good idea that he’d end up a Cleveland Cavalier.

The question is, for how long?

With the future of LeBron James yet to be determined, there is the possibility Sexton, who the team used the eighth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night, could be moved or the Cavs could opt to keep the 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard and build for the future regardless of James' decision. 

General manager Koby Altman sounded Thursday night after the draft like he is leaning towards the latter option because he fills a gaping hole at point guard that Tyronn Lue was forced to fill with 8 different players this past season. 

“I think every expectation is to keep him,” Altman said.

Altman was downright giddy when discussing the selection of Sexton, which came as part of the proceeds of the Kyrie Irving trade last August with Boston – Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick.

“We're incredibly excited about Collin Sexton and the attitude, work ethic, his competitive fire, he's a scorer, but I just love his competitiveness that he's going to bring to this franchise and the energy that he's going to bring to this building,” Altman said.

The Alabama guard was an All-SEC first-team selection by the media and second-team selection by coaches after averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 assists last season as a freshman for the Tide.

“Man, LeBron, let’s do it,” Sexton told ESPN after he was selected when asked to make his pitch to James to stay in Cleveland. “Let’s do it. I’ve seen you needed a few extra pieces this past season, and let’s do it. Let’s go back to the Finals.”

Sexton is hoping he'll get a chance to play alongside James in Cleveland, but it remains to be seen if he'll even get the chance because James might take his talents elsewhere this offseason or the Cavs could flip him for a more experienced player to pair with James. 

“It means a whole lot just because he's one of the best players to ever play basketball,” Sexton said of the possible opportunity to play with James. “Just being able to come in and learn from him, it'll be big for me and big for my growth.”

Sexton set the school’s single-season freshman scoring record with 632 points, surpassing James Robinson’s previous mark of 554 points set in 1990-91.

The 2018 AP honorable mention All-American scored in double figures in 29 games, at least 20 points in 16 games, 30 or more 3 times and he scored 40, including 31 in the second half against No. 14 Minnesota. 

“I do [think he is a starter],” Altman said. “I don't ever want to grant somebody that. What I do know is he's going to fight for that every day. He has not been given anything in his career. He has that chip on his shoulder. He knows he has to fight for it, he knows he has to work for it.”

Altman believes that Sexton fits 2 of James' key criteria: basketball smarts, and the ability to take some of the load of James' shoulders.

“I think he has a very good basketball IQ, but I also think what with LeBron [what] could have helped him as well was just another playmaker, another guy to put pressure on the defense,” Atlman said. “And Collin is explosive. He can get into the paint. He can make stuff happen. He's fast in transition. And I think ballhandling wise he can take the load off LeBron a little bit and again, aside from the basketball IQ, which I think he's very good in pick-and-roll, but I think that just having another play creator is a big deal for our team.”

While Sexton can score, he's also a quality defender and been described as a "bulldog" in some pre-draft evaluations.

“Just being able to play both ends of the basketball court, being able to go out there and play defense and also being able to score the ball,” Sexton said. “But the most important side is the defensive side just because of all the players you have to go against night in, night out.”

Sexton worked out for the Cavs a day after they were swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals, marking the Warriors' third title in 4 years at the Cavs' expense, where owner Dan Gilbert referred to him in a tweet as a “very intriguing draft prospect.” 

“When I was working out for them, I felt like that was one of my better workouts, probably one of my best workouts actually,” Sexton said.  

Altman agreed.

“[We] loved the substance and character that he was about, and then he came here and had an unbelievable workout,” Altman said. “And what was really encouraging about the workout is he actually shot it a lot better. It looked more pure, looked more natural, and his work ethic I know is going to be even better. I don’t want to put too much into the workout, but it helped. And then you feel people, like, you feel them. You’re going to feel this kid.”