Collin Sexton wasn’t on the Rivals Top 150 list for the Class of 2017 midway through last season and he wasn’t on the radar for the selectors for the McDonald’s All American Game.
McDonald’s was on his list, however.
“I had five goals going into my senior year, making McDonald’s, Jordan Brand, the team for USA Basketball, making Peach Jam and winning a state championship,” Sexton said.
Sexton, who is averaging 28.3 points a game this season season at Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.), after leading the Nike EYBL in scoring his past summer, got his honorary McDonald’s jersey on Friday as part of McDonald’s Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance. That means the only thing left on the 6-1 senior guard’s list is a state championship. The Falcons were the state runner-up last season.
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Sexton helped the Falcons move a step closer to that goal on Saturday, defeating reigning state champion Westlake (Atlanta) 87-83 in overtime for the Region 2-AAAAAAA title. Sexton led his team with 43 points, including a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to send the game into overtime. On the shot, three players attempted to guard him, but they were too late because once Sexton got the ball, there was no stopping him.
“I knew I wanted to take the last shot because I think I was built for it,” Sexton said. “I’ve been working very hard to get to this point and I wanted to take it. I felt like I could make it and that’s what happened. They said everybody in the gym knew I was going to take the shot, except them, so I’m glad they didn’t deny.”
Pebblebrook (20-7) has played a big-time schedule. Five of the Falcons’ losses have come to teams that have spent time in the Super 25 basketball rankings. The low point might have been in early December when much of the team got sick while taking a walk to the White House and the Falcons fell 72-56 to Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) in a game at DeMatha (Hyattsville, Va.). Sexton said his team improved because of the difficult games they had.
“I would say it is that and that practices have been a better since then,” Sexton said. “When we went to DeMatha, we walked about seven miles to the White House that day and everybody really got sick because we didn’t realize how cold it was. I think that helped us in the long run because we showed we could fight through anything and continue to play.”
On Jan. 24, Sexton got a concussion in a game against Campbell (Smyrna) and he missed the next two games.
“A guy tackled me on a fast break and my face slammed into the floor,” Sexton said. “I bounced back though.”
One of the games he missed was a big 80-77 defeat of region rival Wheeler (Marietta).
“Beating Wheeler gave the team confidence that we really can do this without Collin,” Sexton said. “And with him int he starting lineup, we can really beat anybody we play. It gave us confidence going into the playoffs.”
Sexton has signed with Alabama. It will be interesting if he’s allowed to keep his unique free-throw routine in Tuscaloosa. A couple of years ago during practice, when he went to shoot a free throw, his teammates went down the other end to set up for defense. After a made free throw, Sexton gave high fives to the spots in the lane his teammates would be. Since then, the routine has stuck.
“(Alabama coach Avery Johnson) should allow me to do it,” Sexton said. “I feel like it’s a part of me and everybody has been catching on to it. I’ve seen little kids do it. He’s going to have to. I just started doing it in workouts one day and it transferred to the game. It was a fun thing to do to simulate the game.”
Sexton, nicknamed “Young Bull,” is known for his intensity and trash talking during a game. He’s looking forward to playing at Alabama with Mae Jemison (Huntsville, Ala.) swing man John Petty, who shares a similar drive.
“I cannot wait to play with him,” Sexton said. “He plays the right way and he plays hard all the time, like me. We’re going to match each other’s intensity.”