Alabama held its end-of-season awards dinner on Monday night, where Collin Sexton unsurprisingly racked up the hardware. But, note, three other players — all returning— were also honored. And that’s an encouraging note for 2018.
The Alabama freshmen class highlighted the honorees on Monday evening. Freshman Collin Sexton was named the Outstanding Offensive Player and shared the Outstanding Freshman Award with guard John Petty. Sexton led the Tide with 19.2 points and 3.6 assists per game, while Petty averaged 10.2 points and topped the team in threes made (90) and attempted (242). Both rookies captured new school records by a freshman, with Sexton setting the bar in total points (632) and Petty in three-pointers made.
Freshman Herbert Jones and junior Donta Hall shared the Outstanding Defensive Player award. Jones topped Alabama in steals (44), while his 23 charges taken set a new school record. Hall led the Tide with 68 blocked shots on the year, ranking among the conference leaders in the category.
While the All-American is gone, the core of the roster returns next season. Alabama loses reserve Ar’mond Davis, who was never able to get off the bench, and Braxton Key, who was never the same after his early-season injury. But, three other starters and a top reserve do come back a year older and wiser.
To Dazon Ingram, John Petty, Herbert Jones, and a decent-but-small class, the team returns Senior Riley Norris and adds the eligibility of Tevin Mack. Coach Johnson thinks this team will be underestimated, but still should be good, since it will no longer be as young or have as many new faces to integrate into system.
Coach Avery Johnson expressed relief in the fact it’s a smaller class to integrate into the program.
”We think not being the fourth-youngest team in the country next year, that’s going to be helpful for us,” Johnson said. “With a lot of these guys that made the NCAA tournament, I know they’re hungry because they like the feeling of the excitement that surrounded that opportunity.”
No word on who’s going to run the point for 34 minutes a game or make the clutch shots that Alabama came to rely upon this season.
The latter question may be answered though in the form of Tevin Mack. The supremely talented Texas transfer sure would have been nice to have in ‘Bama’s tourney run.
In fact, he was the best Tide player in practice many times this season:
“He was our best player in a lot of our practices,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said of Mack at Monday’s team banquet. “We want to see if that can translate to the game.”
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The Columbia, S.C., native played in 48 games, making 10 starts, in his two seasons in Austin. As a sophomore, Mack led the Longhorns in scoring average (14.8 ppg) and 3-point percentage (.391) during the 2016-17 season despite playing in just 15 games. He shot 45.9 percent from the floor and led the team in minutes throughout the first 15 games (31.3).
He finished with double-digit points 16 times, including three games of 20 or more points, and reached double-figure scoring totals during 11 of his final 15 games with the Longhorns.
Johnson said UA needs “shooters that can shoot,” and Mack clearly fits that criteria.
Finally, if you’ve not read the findings of the select Commission on College Basketball, you should. The Committees’ report, chaired by Condoleeza Rice, is only 60 pages. But, it reveals a system we already know to exist: a one-and-done mechanism that fails players and institutions, a transfer system where only 34% of transferees graduate, coaching malfeasance and cheating in a win-at-all-costs environment, and lax enforcement by the NCAA.
Shocking, I’ll tell ya’.
But, if you want to just read a synopsis of foregone conclusions, then the Kansas City Star’s reporting isn’t a bad place to start.