Superstars are one in a million. This past season the Alabama Crimson Tide men’s basketball team had the privilege of hosting one of their own. Collin Sexton, known as “Young Bull” due to his aggressive play and resilience on the basketball court, was nothing short of a true superstar.
Sexton did it all, starting every game he was healthy for, averaging 19.2 points per game, and leading the Crimson Tide to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.
On April 6th, Collin announced he was headed to NBA, after only one season with Alabama. As disappointed as fans may have been with the golden child of the “Avery Johnson era” for heading on to bigger and better things, Sexton didn’t owe anyone an apology.
He put the Crimson Tide back on the map in the college basketball spectrum and set up a future some fans never would have thought possible. But how does Alabama turn the page?
It begins with replacing Collin’s leadership. The Tide will turn to Dontae Hall, one of only two seniors left on the current roster.
“We lean on him for his senior leadership, Dontae has been a great testimony of somebody that has been working hard in the weight room, the classroom, on the court and just getting better and better.”
Head coach Avery Johnson understands leadership will play an immense role in the Crimson Tide’s success this season, but he also realizes leadership isn’t everything when it comes to winning on the hardwood.
The next step will be finding a way to replace Sexton’s talent. Herbert Jones, a sophomore from Greensboro, Alabama, has been the talk of the town leading into the ‘18-’19 campaign being named to the preseason All-SEC Men’s Basketball team, and has gained a great deal of respect from his teammates along with it. When asked about how Jones has improved in the offseason, fellow sophomore Galin Smith had many positives to speak on.
“His confidence, his jump shot, he’s just going out there and playing and not so much thinking. We already know that he can lock down on the defensive end but now on the offensive end he has a lot more confidence.”
The final stride Alabama has to make in order to fill the gap Collin Sexton left behind, is coming together and playing as a team. Smith not only had constructive things to say about his teammate Herb, but about his team as a whole additionally.
“I just need to feed off the energy my teammates give me, I give them a lot of credit for how I’ve been able to play this year, they helped me a great deal in making me feel comfortable when I’m out there.”
It’s going to take more than just the reasons listed above for the Tide to match the success they had this past season, but it all begins with strong leadership, entertaining talent and the ability to come together and win.
Collin Sexton’s legacy at UA will never be forgotten, but the 2018-2019 Alabama Men’s basketball team looks to create a legacy that will be concreted into the history books just the same. The journey to cutting down the nets, and dancing in the confetti begins now with a new era of Alabama basketball.
(Photo courtesy of The Crimson White)