(First posted at RealGM)
Collin Sexton caught fire as soon as he stepped into a college basketball court, averaging 29.7 points per 40 minutes on 60.6% true shooting over the first month.
The soon-to-be 19-year-old is putting up heavy usage on an Alabama team without any other highly regarded pro prospect around him and has managed to score in volume on decent efficiency, despite not having the very best conditions to succeed.
The six-foot-two lead guard has handled the ball in pick-and-roll quite often but doesn’t have a diver that opponents fear enough, aside from the fact Alabama doesn’t have enough shooting to space the floor effectively.
Amazingly, Sexton looked like he had an easier time than usual getting to the basket playing with two fewer teammates in the final 10 minutes of the game against Minnesota. The driving lanes were less clogged up.
On the other end, he doesn’t have the physical traits to be an impact player but it doesn’t excuse how often he just coasts out there, as he seems to be one of those guys who feel like he needs to rest on defense because of the heavy burden he carries on offense, rarely playing with the sort of intensity needed for him to be at least a little more average.
Sexton’s meal ticket at this point of his development is his slashing. Despite a strong preference for driving left, the shot creator has a number of resources to burst into the lane, whether it’s in isolation or out of the pick-and-roll.
He has an explosive first step to just blow by his man out on an island, aside from being able to shake him side-to-side with his shiftiness changing directions and his handle keeping the ball in a string. For someone with a 32.9% usage rate, the fact he’s turned it over on just 11.4% of his possessions is very appealing.
Sexton truly excels working with the aid of a screen, though, able to split double-teams at the point of attack or lose his man turning on the jets off an in-and-out dribble or a hesitation move, while also flashing the ability to play with pace and keeping his poise when the opponent hedges or traps him.
He can hit the roll man over the top when the opponent brings up the big man above the foul line in fear of his pull-up jumper but more often than not looks to turn the corner and get into the lane himself, weaving through traffic with euro-steps and spin moves.
Sexton has averaged 7.1 shots at the rim per 40 minutes and 13.6 free throws per 40 minutes, as he’s proven himself fearless attacking size at the basket. His performance against Arizona’s twin towers last Saturday was particularly impressive.
He can dunk off one foot with plenty of chance to gather momentum in transition but has not shown to be that sort of explosive scorer in the half-court. He is able to adjust his body in the air to attempt finishes against rim protectors but currently lacks enough strength in his 183-pound frame to score at an above average clip on these up-and-under’s, converting a so-so 61.7% of his shots at the basket so far.
As a passer, Sexton has not yet shown be all that special in terms of court vision. There haven’t been many instances of him making passes across his body to the opposite end of the floor or hitting the roll man with well timed pocket times.
But he is more than willing to kickout to a shooter if a strong-side defender helps one pass away and has flashed a last-second jump-pass to a big close by after tying up the last line of defense – assisting on 23.6% of Alabama’s scores when he’s been on the floor.
In concert with his quickness and his dribble moves, Sexton is consistently able to create a path to the lane because he’s proven himself a dangerous enough threat from the perimeter to stress the defense into extending its coverage.
Sexton has a very quick trigger off the bounce, with range out to a few feet behind the college three-point line. He is a good shot maker, able to nail pull-ups when the big drops back, hitting 47.1% of his 34 three-point shots this season, with just four of his 16 makes assisted.
He hasn’t yet developed into a great shot maker, though – a much less efficient proposition when he has to cut a drive short, stop on a dime and rise in a split-second coming off a dribble, as he’s hit his 38 mid-range jumpers at a lousy 28.9% clip. An improvement in shot selection could also help him in this department.
Sexton has been a subpar defender at the collegiate level so far.
He will get down in a stance and does try icing pick-and-rolls often but doesn’t play with a lot of intensity in terms of hurrying back to his man as he prevents him from going middle and exposes his big teammate involved in the two-man game.
Sexton has pretty good lateral quickness to slide and stay in front of similarly sized players in isolation but it’s rare to see him keeping pace with his man all the way, which is what is needed of him in individual defense since he lacks strength to contain dribble penetration and his six-foot-five wingspan doesn’t really allow him to block or effectively contest shots from behind unless he is attached to his man.
On-ball defense is something Sexton needs to improve for the next level because he projects as a one-position defender, given he just doesn’t have the physical traits to matchup against bigger players and hasn’t shown an inclination for executing the scheme down to a tee as a weak-side defender.
He doesn’t get in a stance away from the ball, is prone to lose his man relocating and his closeouts are pretty poor, as he is rarely able to run the shooter off the line and doesn’t have the length to contest catch-and-shoot jumpers effectively. Sexton is also not much of a contributor on the defensive glass.
His defensive rating is third worst on the team among rotation players.
 Date of birth: January, 4th, 1999
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara