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Collin Sexton Meets the Media as He Gears Up for the Next Level
It’s unclear what to expect from a player who comes into his introductory press conference with the nickname “the Young Bull.”
The newest Cavalier – Collin Sexton – who enters the Association with one of the most stylish sobriquets in recent memory, met the assembled media on Friday afternoon. And the eighth overall selection of the 2018 Draft looked wide-eyed and ready to roll. (And he’ll get his chance when Las Vegas Summer League tips off in less than two weeks.)
Flanked on both sides by his new general manager and head coach, Sexton answered questions ranging from his 3-on-5 heroics against Minnesota to his dietary improvement from chicken wings to salad. Mostly, he looked like a 19-year-old whose life has been moving extremely fast over the past few weeks.
The Cavaliers have been a veteran team since the return of LeBron James in 2014, but they’ve gradually gotten younger – and both Koby Altman and Tyronn Lue seemed genuinely excited to start shaping their new point guard.
”I’ve seen Collin grow as a player and he exemplifies hard work and dedication,” said Lue. “I think when you look at him two years ago, he wasn’t on the circuit as being one of the top players in the country but he continued to work and dedicate himself to the game of basketball. And look where he’s at today.
”When you have a guy who work hard as Collin does to get where he wants to get, those are the guys you want on your team,” Lue continued. “His toughness, his character, being a great student in the classroom – all that exemplifies what we want to do here in Cleveland and I’m glad he’s part of it.”
Sexton goes from one former NBA point guard as coach – matriculating under the tutelage of Avery Johnson at Alabama and advancing to Coach Lue at the next level.
”(Coach Johnson) told me that this wasn’t the end, this was only the beginning,” smiled Sexton. “He told me don’t stop working, keep the same attitude that I have and keep working every day to get better.”
In his single season at Alabama, the 6-3, 185-pound Atlanta native was outstanding – and improved as the season went on, notching a school-record 79 points in the Alabama’s three SEC Tournament games. He averaged 19.2 points on 45 percent shooting – posting 29 double-digit scoring games in his single season in Tuscaloosa – including 16 games of 20 more points and three games topping the 30-point plateau.
Sexton’s 40-point performance in Bama’s November 25 loss to Minnesota – tallying 31 of those after intermission – was a freshman school record.
”We haven’t had a lot of chances to develop guys – we did the Kevin Love deal and other trades and didn’t have draft picks,” said Coach Lue. “So having (Sexton), Clarkson, Hood, Cedi, Big Z – now we have guys that we can develop and help mature as they go along. And I’m very excited for that challenge.”
Altman – in his first NBA Draft as GM of the Wine & Gold – also seemed energized by another infusion of youth (and talent) to the roster.
”First and foremost, we want to compete at the highest level, and winning championships is still our goal and will always be our goal,” maintained Altman. “But through that process, we wanted to focus on long-term success and sustainability and during this year we were able to do that – (get) more talented, more athletic and have some real momentum going into the future. And we knew this pick was going to be a big part of that plan.
”Now, it’s not a pick anymore – it’s Collin Sexton.”
As always, the Cavaliers will reshape their roster over the course of the offseason. And Sexton will eventually have to work with some seasoned pros while running the point – not always an easy transition for a teenager.
”Coming in (to the league), I would say making sure the guys around you are together as one,” said Sexton. “Everybody has egos, everybody is older, vets do certain things certain ways. So just building relationships with your teammates – that’s the biggest thing. You build it off the court, it carries onto the court and good things happen after that.”
The Cavaliers didn’t out-think the process on Thursday night. They selected the player they loved at a position of absolute need – a strong overall start to what could be a seminal summer.
”Going into the Draft, I just wanted to go to the right team,” said the newest Cavalier. “A team that was going to allow me to learn and just come in and be me. I was just blessed to be there with all those guys in the Draft – and to be picked at No. 8 by Cleveland was big and it was one of the most exciting moments of my life.”