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Regardless of how it ends, Collin Sexton’s season at Alabama has been memorable

Alabama basketball-Crimson Tide basketball-Collin Sexton

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s hard to believe that the Collin Sexton era at the University of Alabama is already in the final stretch.

It’s been a fast 24 games that he’s played for the Crimson Tide, plus the exhibitions in Canada back in August. All that’s left are four Southeastern Conference games, including Wednesday’s rivalry showdown at No. 12 Auburn (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network), and then there are no guarantees.

A loss after the SEC Tournament in St. Louis, where Alabama is only guaranteed one game, and it’s over. Sexton will almost certainly be a first-round selection in the NBA Draft when college basketball fans were just beginning to appreciate how different a player he really is — both on and off the court.

For example, Sexton’s a one-and-done talent who still had a perfect 4.0 GPA during his first semester.

Despite being an extremely high-profile player, he’s turned down interview requests from just about every national writer and broadcaster you can think of. Sexton’s only done the same sessions as his teammates because he doesn’t want the potential distraction.

He doesn’t even do social media. Sexton considers it a waste of time.

Despite being just 19, he’s like the anti-millennial. Sexton bucks trends and makes no excuses for doing so.

“I like players like him that have that old-school mentality,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “They want to just have that passion and drive, and they want to work on their games. Here’s a kid, man, we’ve got to basically turn the lights out in the gym sometimes and say, ‘Go back to the dorm. Just go and be a student for at least an hour a day.’ But he wants to live in the gym.

“He’s driven. He’s passionate. He’s got big dreams and big goals.”

Of course, Sexton has been pretty good as well despite playing with an abdominal injury that sidelined him for two games in mid-January.

The freshman point guard leads Alabama in scoring and is third in the league, averaging 18.1 points per game. Sexton also tops the Crimson Tide in assists (3.5), field goals made (136) and field goals attempted (314), and he recently made the John R. Wooden Award Late Season Top-20 list for player of the year.

Playing on an extremely young team, there’s been some inconsistency and disappointing losses, but the Crimson Tide are 5-1 against ranked opposition and the lone loss was a doozy against then-No. 14 Minnesota on Nov. 25 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Alabama played the final 10:41, when it trailed 67-56, with just three players due to injuries and the entire bench being ejected.

It only lost 89-84 as Sexton became the first Crimson Tide player to score 40 in a game since Reggie King’s 43 points against Virginia in 1978.

This Collin Sexton guy is pretty good pic.twitter.com/YvQhT7dQbh — SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 11, 2018

“I just play to a standard,” Sexton said. “Like I know when I’m out there, I want to play to a certain standard, I don’t feel like there’s pressure.”

So what motivates him?

“Family,” Sexton answered. “Waking up each and every day and going to work, and work hard.”

That’s how he went from being an unknown recruit to a consensus 5-star prospect. It’s led to things like being named the 2017 Class 7A Player of the Year and first-team All-State by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga.

Sexton was also named to Team USA for the FIBA U17 World Championships in Spain where he landed MVP honors, and a McDonald’s All-American, where during the all-star weekend won the high-profile dunk contest.

Of course, none of that meant anything at Alabama, where he showed up on the skinny side. Sexton, now listed as 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, noted that the biggest surprise for him at the collegiate level was how much more physical the game was, not the speed. He was already used to playing fast.

“We really had to work on his body when he first arrived on campus, to give him the kind of strength that he’s going to need to withstand some of the contact — especially for a guy who likes to drive and try to get a free throw so much, the way he can break down defenses,” Johnson said. “We tried to address that first.”

The other top priority was to get Sexton in the film room and become more of a student of the game. No one in the basketball world may understand how important that is more than his coach.

Johnson played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern University, leading the NCAA in assists during both of them. After not being selected in the 1988 NBA Draft, he started his professional career playing with the Palm Beach Stingrays of the United States Basketball League.

At 5-foot-11, he was a living version of “one of these things is not like the other” in NBA locker rooms. Yet, the man dubbed “The Little General” made it to the NBA, won a title with the San Antonio Spurs and played 16 years in the league.

He knows a few things about where hard work can take someone, and his imprint on Sexton has been noticeable.

“He’s a spark of energy,” sophomore forward Braxton Key said about Sexton’s recent play. “He’s leading the team well. He’s been a great floor general for us, taking care of the ball a lot better, taking smarter shots. So, he’s been doing a great job of getting everybody involved.”

Coming in, Sexton said he wanted to lead Alabama to an SEC championship and an NCAA Tournament bid. He’s on pace for the latter, and who knows what might happen in St. Louis, especially if Alabama can secure a top-four seed. This year’s tournament looks like it could be wide open.

ESPN analyst: Collin Sexton should be the first guard taken in NBA draft https://t.co/I3zuJ8ESg8 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/pUJ3pEFnnl — SEC Country Alabama (@SECCountryBama) February 20, 2018

Going out, though, won’t be easy to watch because he’ll definitely be leaving Crimson Tide fans wanting more. Barring an injury, he has a minimum of six games remaining in crimson and white, including his final two at Coleman Coliseum against Arkansas on Saturday and Florida on Tuesday.

Maybe he’ll shoot the lights out.

The post Regardless of how it ends, Collin Sexton’s season at Alabama has been memorable appeared first on SEC Country.

Mike Patrick out at ESPN after 35 years of play-by-play work

Mike Patrick-ESPN-commentator

Mike Patrick has called his final college football game for ESPN.

On Wednesday, the Worldwide Leader announced that the play-by-play man is ending his run with the company which began in 1982.

“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said via ESPN’s release. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”

Patrick’s last college football call came at last season’s Liberty Bowl between Iowa State and Memphis.

“No play-by-play commentator in ESPN history has accomplished more than Mike Patrick,” ESPN vice president Lee Fitting said in the release. “He is not only a gifted professional who skillfully captures the moments and makes others around him better; he brings a genuine sports fan’s excitement to the telecasts. It was a truly incredible run.”

ESPN announced that Patrick will be featured during a live segment on the telecast of the Duke-Louisville basketball game on Wednesday night to discuss his decision to leave the network after 35 years.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated.

The post Mike Patrick out at ESPN after 35 years of play-by-play work appeared first on SEC Country.

LSU in lead group for priority 4-star WR


Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting , with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss top-100 wide receiver Jalen Curry, who has made multiple unofficial visits to LSU in the past month. Where do the Tigers stand in his recruitment?

Jalen Curry has LSU in lead group

NEW ORLEANS — Jalen Curry has become a familiar face in and around LSU’s campus over the past month.

Curry, a top-100 prospect in the 2019 class and the No. 17-ranked wide receiver nationally, attended LSU’s elite junior day in late January and returned this past Friday for a second unofficial stop.

The short trek from Houston to Baton Rouge has become routine for the 4-star prospect, who has the Tigers in his lead group along with Auburn and Ohio State after two impactful visits.

“Both visits were truly amazing,” Curry told SEC Country at Pylon’s 7-on-7 event in New Orleans over the weekend. “The coaches made me feel at home. It was a great environment, a great historical program. They send a lot of players to the league and it’s just an all-around great program and great school.”

Four-star wide receiver Jalen Curry has visited LSU twice in the past month, including elite junior day in January and a follow-up visit last weekend. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

Curry, along with teammate and priority quarterback target Grant Gunnell, were on hand for the elite junior day, which was designed for the top in-state prospects. Curry and Gunnell were the lone exceptions.

That’s because both 4-star prospects from St. Pius X (Texas) High School sit atop of LSU’s board for the Class of 2019. That was made clear to both during the visit.

“It means a lot,” Curry said. “They show a lot of love and that they really want me. I’m a main priority for them and I’m at the top of their list. They keep showing me love and that they really care for me, and that means a lot for me.”

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Curry has the Tigers in his lead group along with Ohio State and Auburn. The biggest reason why is communication.

Both coach Ed Orgeron and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph are spearheading LSU’s push for Curry.

“They’re definitely on top,” Curry said. “Great communication with Coach O and Coach Joseph. They’re really on me a lot. They really like my game and they really want me to come.”

“Communication is the key,” he added. “They’ve been communicating with me a lot. Mainly, just communicating and saying how much they love and want me up there. Their communication is at the top of the list along with Ohio State and Auburn.”

LSU’s offensive production in 2018 will certainly play a role in Curry’s decision.

The staff has plans for the big-bodied wide receiver, which has Curry anxious to see the team play in the spring game on April 21. Already, the 4-star prospect is confident in what’s brewing behind the scenes.

“The plan is for them to spread the ball out, throw the ball around more and get physical wide receivers to go make plays, and that’s what I am,” Curry detailed. “They’ve been mentioning that a lot to me, so we’ll see what they do in the spring game. I trust them, though. I believe in them. I know they’re not giving me crap; they’ve stayed 100 with me and that’s what I like.”

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here .

The post LSU in lead group for priority 4-star WR appeared first on SEC Country.

Tennessee recruiting: Jeremy Pruitt making Nashville a priority

Tennessee recruiting-jeremy pruitt-nashville

Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions  here . In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and coach Jeremy Pruitt’s emphasis on the city of Nashville.

Emphasis on Nashville

In this space Tuesday, I wrote about Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff placing an importance on Memphis in recruiting. Nashville might be even more important to the future success of the program.

Pruitt broke it down in about as simple of terms as possible at the National Signing Day celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.

“The football in Nashville is really good,” Pruitt said. “There’s more people in itself in the surrounding area then anywhere in the state. The football is good. We’ll be here, we’ll be recruiting.”

Nashville has been steadily growing and has begun to produce more top-tier talent in the last decade.

RELATED: Phillip Fulmer on winning with in-state Tennessee recruits: “It means more”

Alabama, Georgia and Clemson are all at historical heights in their programs with no sign of slowing down. Tennessee will have to lock down the top talent in the Volunteer State to keep up.

Pruitt and his staff have plans to recruit both all over the Southeast and nationwide. Winning the state of Tennessee and luring the top prospects to Rocky Top is imperative.

Where the Vols stand with 2019 prospects from Nashville

This might be the best crop of prospects in the Nashville area in recent memory. Tennessee will be targeting a number of these prospects this cycle. Some can help fill positions of need, too.

Wide receiver Lance Wilhoite is the top-rated player in Tennessee by the 247Sports composite, and would help the Vols tremendously. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Wilhoite is just smooth in everything he does. He is drawing interest from Florida State, Ohio State and Clemson, among others.

Trey Knox is a 6-4, 206-pound wideout in Murfreesboro, just outside of Nashville. He’s a physical wide receiver with interest from top schools across the country, as well. Wilhoite and Knox are both big wide receivers who can block — exactly the traits Tennessee’s coaching staff is looking for at the position.

Woodi Washington and Wesley Walker are two cornerbacks from the middle of the state. This is the position to watch closest as the 2019 cycle progresses. The Vols didn’t sign a cornerback in 2018 despite losing four off the 2017 roster. Letting Washington or Walker leave the state would be a bad miss for the staff.

This just scratches the surface, too. Stick with SEC Country as we expand more on the top talent the Vols are chasing in the middle of the state.

This staff won’t land every prospect they chase. But landing a good portion of them would go a long way in upping the talent base on the team.

How Tennessee recruited Nashville in 2018

Tennessee has done a fairly good job of getting most of the prospects from the middle of the state to come to Rocky Top. The most recent class features signees Brant Lawless and Tanner Antonutti from the area. Both have a chance to grow into solid players at Tennessee.

The previous staff pursued running back Master Teague pretty hard but came up short against Ohio State. The Vols only signed one running back this cycle. Teague is a really good prospect and could have a great career for the Buckeyes.

At least Teague is out of the SEC — perhaps making it a case of out of sight, out of mind for Vol fans. No coaching staff or fan base wants to see in-state talent go elsewhere in the conference and help rivals.

Pruitt and his staff have the tall task of not letting this happen with the extremely talented 2019 class.

“It’s important that we recruit the state of Tennessee,” Pruitt said. “And everything within a five-to-six-hour radius.”

Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news  here .

The post Tennessee recruiting: Jeremy Pruitt making Nashville a priority appeared first on SEC Country.

Alabama will ‘for sure’ be finalist for top-10 linebacker

Alabama-Alabama football-Alabama Crimson Tide-Marcel Brooks

Welcome to  SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings , a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with one of the nation’s top 10 outside linebackers. 

Marcel Brooks set to make first visit to Alabama 

Marcel Brooks hasn’t visited Tuscaloosa before, but that will change this weekend when he travels to Alabama for the Crimson Tide’s junior day event on Feb. 24. Even without stepping foot on campus, Brooks already knows that Alabama will be one of the schools he chooses from when he makes his commitment on June 25, his birthday.

“They’re one of the top schools and when a big head coach comes to your school to tell you that you have a chance to play early, you have to put them in consideration,” Brooks told SEC Country last month.

Brooks, a 4-star linebacker from Marcus High School (Flower Mound, Texas), said he will for sure take an official visit to Alabama. LSU and Ohio State are also in line to receive 1 of his 5 official visits. Penn State is being considered, too.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect will need to add weight when he reaches college, but he’s considered one of the Tide’s top linebacker targets in the 2019 class. Brooks said he’s looking forward to seeing how the coaches interact with the players when he’s on campus.

He also said that defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is in touch with him almost every single day. The combination of Lupoi and Nick Saban gives Alabama a good chance to land Brooks’ commitment when he makes his decision this summer.

“I stand pretty high with Alabama just considering that Nick Saban came by my school in December and told my coach that I’ll have a good chance for playing time my freshman year,” Brooks said. “That stands out a lot for me.”

The Tide will need to add several linebackers in the 2019 class because the team will lose Christian Miller, Keith Holcombe and Jamey Mosley after the 2018 season ends. Terrell Lewis and Mack Wilson are also candidates to declare early for the NFL draft.

Brooks, the nation’s No. 7 outside linebacker according to the 247Sports composite, said Alabama is recruiting him at his listed position, but he has the ability to be an elite safety, too. Wherever he plays, Alabama’s success at churning out pro prospects on defense is what’s most appealing to him about the school.

“It weighs on my mind a lot,” Brooks said. “I’m trying to take care of my family one day. When you get to Alabama, you just know that they’re all about business. They send lots of people to the league. They know what you need to do and train you on to get to that level.

“You can’t say too much about Alabama. You just know that ‘Bama is going to get you to where you need to go.”

Other important prospects headed to Tuscaloosa this weekend 

Several elite recruits in the 2019 and 2020 classes announced on Twitter that they’ll visit Alabama this weekend for the Tide’s junior day. Here are the recruits expected to attend the event:

  • 4-star safety Cortez Andrews — Andrews was close to committing to Alabama at one point. It’s unclear where he stands on the defensive back board now that Derrick Ansley left for the Oakland Raiders.
  • 4-star safety Trikweze Bridges — Bridges had a verbal offer from Ansley, but the in-state prospect will likely need to camp this summer to receive a committable offer.
  • 3-star cornerback DJ James — Another in-state prospect. James doesn’t have an offer from the Tide just yet.

Other prospects who have confirmed will be in attendance are 5-star tackle commit Pierce Quick, 4-star linebacker commit King Mwikuta, 4-star defensive end Nathan Pickering, 4-star cornerback Christian Williams, 4-star safety Noa Pola-Gates and 4-star tackle Xavier Truss.

SEC Country will have a full preview of the visitors this Friday.

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings recruiting notebook  right here .

The post Alabama will ‘for sure’ be finalist for top-10 linebacker appeared first on SEC Country.

Kentucky-Arkansas Analysis: John Calipari found his winning lineup, will ‘ride with the guys that are getting it done’

Kentucky-UK basketball-Kentucky basketball-John Calipari-lineup-Arkansas-analysis-NCAA Tournament-Quade Green-Kevin Knox-Shai Gilgeous Alexander-Jarred Vanderbilt

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Kevin Knox poked fun at himself for an airballed 3-pointer. He and teammates PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt snickered at each other’s answers at the postgame podium. Well, Vanderbilt scowled at a joke about his missed dunk, but everyone else thought it was a hoot.

“We’ll just laugh it off in film,” Knox said after a thoroughly impressive 87-72 win at Arkansas on Tuesday night. “Just brush that off in film, be funny and laughing. Now, if we’d lost, it would be something totally different.”

You see, winning is a cure and Kentucky basketball is suddenly much healthier, in spirit and NCAA Tournament resume. Smiles are back, NIT talk has vanished and the weight of a four-game losing streak is long gone, giving way to the joy and confidence that comes with consecutive quality wins.

It’s one thing to stomp the gas in the final five minutes against Alabama when you’re playing at home and desperate, which the Wildcats were and did Saturday, but something altogether different to fall behind 11-0 and 15-5 at the terror dome known as Bud Walton Arena and then roar back to outscore the Razorbacks by 25 points over the final 35 minutes.

“We had a four-game losing streak,” Vanderbilt said, grinning as Knox ran with the gag: “I don’t remember that at all. I just remember the last two games.”

In those two straight victories, Kentucky (19-9, 8-7 SEC) has found its winning lineup: Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Knox, Washington and Vanderbilt. Starters Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards have become glued to the bench, especially in winning time.

“I did away with the rotation,” coach John Calipari said. “Because everybody took advantage. They just did what they wanted to do because they knew they were going in. So we have no rotation now. It’s that time of year: I’ve just got to ride with the guys that are getting it done.”

POSTGAME Q&amp;A: Everything Calipari said after the win at Arkansas

To that end, Gilgeous-Alexander played 39 minutes, Knox 38, Green 34, Washington 31 and Vanderbilt, who is still working his way back from a foot injury that cost him Kentucky’s first 17 games, played 19 minutes. Diallo got 10, Richards 7.

“We’re starting to figure it out, and especially me” Calipari said, “I just told them, I said, ‘You know, we struggled a little bit early, weren’t where we needed to be, and then we added Jarred and it took us another three weeks. And now we’ve settled in.’ About 10 days ago, I had a meeting and gave them their roles: ‘This is your role on this team. Can you do it? Because if you can’t, I can’t play you.’ ”

Clearly the Finishing Five nodded in the affirmative. Knox had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 made 3-pointers and 2 steals Tuesday. Gilgeous-Alexander was brilliant with 18 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, while Green added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists — and those two guards combined for just 3 turnovers.

Washington delivered only his second double-double of the season: 13 points and 10 boards to go with 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. And Vanderbilt, with 11 points and 9 boards, continued his ascension into indispensable status. Collectively, the Cats crushed Arkansas on the glass, same as they did Alabama.

Kentucky has outrebounded each of its last two opponents by 17 and had a total of three turnovers in the final 11 minutes of both those games. With 13:16 to go Tuesday, the Razorbacks (19-9, 8-7) actually led by 5. Then the Wildcats scored nine straight points and delivered a 22-4 run in the span of six and a half minutes and it was all over but the shouting.

“I’ll tell you, I’m proud,” Calipari said. “To be able to come in here — this is a hard place to play — for us to do this as a young team …”

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson doesn’t want to hear about Kentucky’s youth, even if its winning combination is five freshmen compared to his team, which starts four seniors.

“They’re not freshmen anymore,” he said. “They’re athletic, they’re long and they’re figuring it out.”

There’s a sign inside Bud Walton Arena warning opponents that it is the toughest place to play in the SEC. The Hogs have won the fourth-most home games in college basketball over the last seven seasons, entered Tuesday 14-1 there this season and had beaten Kentucky in four of the last five meetings in Fayetteville.

“They said this is one of the toughest in the SEC?” Vanderbilt asked afterward, to which Washington replied: “I didn’t see that sign.”

Suddenly all signs are pointing to Kentucky putting its many tall and talented pieces together just in the nick of time. Three regular-season games remain — home against Missouri and Ole Miss, then at Florida — and an SEC Tournament to see if the improvement sticks. Then on to what the Wildcats hope is a seventh deep NCAA Tournament run in nine years under Calipari.

“We’ve settled down a lot,” Vanderbilt said. “I feel like through each practice, through each game, we’ve gotten better at late-game situations, kind of been more poised going down the stretch.”

That, and they’re smiling a lot more these days.

The post Kentucky-Arkansas Analysis: John Calipari found his winning lineup, will ‘ride with the guys that are getting it done’ appeared first on SEC Country.

South Carolina recruiting: Catching up with 4-star DE commitment Rodricus Fitten

South Carolina football-Rodricus Fitten

Whenever Will Muschamp lands a commitment, the South Carolina coach drops a #SpursUp on Twitter. Come to SEC Country for the latest news, notes and observations in South Carolina recruiting.  For previous editions of SpursUp Surveillance, check out the link.

Four-star defensive end Rodricus Fitten (Atlanta) is ranked behind 4-star wide receiver Jamario Holley (Rock Hill, S.C.) as the No. 2 overall prospect in South Carolina’s 2019 commitment class.

While he’s still firm with his commitment, the Gamecocks are hardly the only suitors in pursuit of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect from Washington High School.

Iowa State, Louisville and North Carolina were on board with offers before he committed, followed by Florida, which came in just days before Christmas. Tennessee offered Fitten a scholarship earlier this week.

The Vols, led by defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, have piqued Fitten’s interest, and they could be in line for a visit next month.

“It’s like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of other schools recruiting me,’ but at the same time, I have to weigh out all my options,” Fitten said, when asked about his newest offers.

“With me being committed, it’s even harder. If I did de-commit, it would be a very hard decision for me.”

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Fitten, the No. 22 weakside defensive end in the country according to 247Sports, plans to remain in South Carolina’s 2019 commitment class. The Gamecocks coaches last had him on campus in January for junior day.

“I really enjoyed myself there,” Fitten said. “I really enjoyed myself at South Carolina, like I did before. They treat me like family. That’s what I love about it, and the coaches ask how I’ve been doing in school and all that, and I’ve been doing well.”

During the trip, he spent time with assistant coach Mike Peterson, who coaches South Carolina’s hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end spot. Fitten likes imagining himself in that kind of role at the next level.

“With playing outside linebacker, I can be more athletic than being at defensive end because I can’t drop back into coverage or anything like that,” Fitten said. “I enjoy it, playing outside linebacker more, and that’s where most colleges are looking at me, as an outside linebacker, instead of an end.”

South Carolina will see him back on campus for the Garnet &amp; Black spring game.

“I love the system that [Muschamp] has because it’s an all-work system,” Fitten said. “And he cares about the kids that come in and all that. At the end of the day, it’s tough love that he shows with the program and all the coaches bring full effort, full throttle to practice and games, and I love it.”

South Carolina recruiting updates

Miss a previous edition of Spurs Up Surveillance?  Get caught up here.

The post South Carolina recruiting: Catching up with 4-star DE commitment Rodricus Fitten appeared first on SEC Country.

2018 NBA mock draft: Where are Kentucky players projected?

Hamidou Diallo-Kevin Knox-Shai Gilgeous Alexander-Kentucky-NBA Draft-2018 nba draft-mock draft

Kentucky shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, once projected as a lottery pick, is no longer seen by some as a first-round NBA draft pick.

The redshirt freshman is averaging just 7.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting in SEC play. Diallo is shooting 19 percent from 3-point range against conference foes.

Here’s the latest on the 2018 NBA Draft prospects for Diallo and fellow Kentucky players Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards and PJ Washington.

SF/PF Kevin Knox: 6-foot-9, 215 pounds

“Kentucky’s Knox doesn’t have the statistical profile of the wings ahead of him, but his positional size is a positive in a draft sorely lacking at the position,” wrote Chris Stone of the Sporting News. “Knox flashed his potential in a 34-point performance against West Virginia last month. He needs to show he can consistently knock down shots in order to move up NBA teams’ boards.”

PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 6-6, 180 pounds

“The Jazz might look for a versatile guard who can operate in different lineups without dominating the ball alongside Donovan Mitchell,” wrote Jonathan Givony of ESPN. “Gilgeous-Alexander has the size, length, multi-positional defensive versatility and unselfishness needed to operate as a role player alongside a variety of different types of guards and wings.”

SG Hamidou Diallo: 6-5, 198 pounds

“Hamidou Diallo is quickly playing himself out of the first round,” wrote Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. “Earlier in the season, he was seen as a potential lottery pick because of his quick-twitch athleticism, length and track record in high school. But he’s been awful instinctually in college so far and has not done enough in half-court settings to bring value to the table. He needs to start making a difference for the Wildcats or else this could be the last mock draft he’s placed in the first round.”

SF Jarred Vanderbilt: 6-9, 214 pounds C Nick Richards: 6-11, 240 pounds
  • ESPN:  54th overall draft prospect
PF PJ Washington: 6-7, 236 pounds

The post 2018 NBA mock draft: Where are Kentucky players projected? appeared first on SEC Country.

Alabama basketball: Collin Sexton to experience Alabama-Auburn rivalry for first time

Alabama basketball-Collin Sexton-Auburn basketball

Alabama football drives the conversation here at  the Rammer Jammer , SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap, but we’ll cover news for every facet of the Crimson Tide. Every morning, we’ll be here for the latest on Alabama football, basketball and every other sport on campus.

Rivalry game reunites freshman guard with former teammate

Alabama defeated Auburn on Jan. 17 without freshman point guard Collin Sexton. Sexton missed the win with an abdominal injury that he sustained in practice. Alabama managed without him, mostly because of a 27-point performance from fellow freshman John Petty. Now, fast-forward a month and Sexton is back on the court. He will embrace his first experience in the rivalry since coming to Alabama. 

Sexton has a connection to the Tigers already. He discussed his relationship with Auburn point guard Jared Harper, who was a teammate of his in high school.

Alabama point guard Collin Sexton discusses his relationship with Auburn point guard Jared Harper. Both attended Pebblebrook High School: pic.twitter.com/VS82EqNoyh — Matthew Speakman (@speakmanmc) February 20, 2018

MORE:  Sign up here  to get this roundup in your inbox Monday through Friday

In other headlines …

Decade of dominance

Alabama has ruled college football since coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007. The Crimson Tide have won five national championships in the last nine years, with the most recent coming this past season. Alabama’s decade of dominance is even more impressive after its performance this year.

Predicting Alabama’s depth chart

Alabama failed to sign the best class in the 2018 recruiting cycle but still brought in two top defenders. Five-star defensive lineman Eyabi Anoma and 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. could instantly make an impact on Alabama’s defense. Our own Marq Burnett predicted Alabama’s depth chart on defense after its signing class.

Alabama baseball remains undefeated

After completing a sweep this past weekend, Alabama baseball defeated Middle Tennessee State 4-0 on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide used seven pitchers to earn the shutout win. Pitchers Garret Rukes and Brock Love played in their first game since having Tommy John surgery.

Around the Capstone

Miss a previous edition? Find every installment of SEC Country’s daily Alabama newsletter  right here.

The post Alabama basketball: Collin Sexton to experience Alabama-Auburn rivalry for first time appeared first on SEC Country.

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