HAMPTON, Va. – There’s no way around it, Collin Sexton’s goals heading into the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League regular season were, well, cliché.
The whole “unranked player who hopes to take the league by storm, rack up offers from college basketball heavyweights and be in striking distance for a coveted spot in the McDonald’s All American Game by summer’s end” bit is all but engrained in every player on the outside looking in on the Top 25 of the ESPN 100 player rankings.
Yet, a game into the third session of the Nike EYBL, it’s clear that, as the top scorer in the league (30.1 points per game), Sexton is well on his way to potentially surpassing his initial goals.
“I’m a really focused person,” said Sexton, who scored 30 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Southern Stampede (Ga.) past Team Griffin (Okla.) 80-78 Friday night at the Boo Williams Sportsplex. “I put in the work to be successful on the court and I’m really disciplined.”
The latter is a testament to his parents who Sexton said “are big on chores” and even bigger on completing said chores.
“Yeah, if I forget to do the dishes or take the trash out or something like that, you better believe I’m gonna get woken up at 3 a.m. to do it,” Sexton said with a laugh. “They don’t play with that, but as I’m getting older I do see how that kind of discipline helps me in other ways. I just don’t have the distractions other players have.”
That’s not some “sounds good” throwaway quote, either; Sexton doesn’t spend countless hours reading and refreshing his timelines on different social media sites just because he’s busy doing schoolwork, chores or grinding away in the gym, it’s also because he actually doesn’t have any pages of his own.
“People don’t believe me when I say that, but I don’t do social media,” said Sexton, who attends Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.). “Not to knock people that do, I just feel like I could be using that time to get better. Plus, I don’t like reading negativity; I don’t have time for that.”
Southern Stampede coach Aljami Durham didn’t hesitate when asked if, in the six years that his program has been around, Sexton was the first player without any social media pages.
“Oh yes, definitely the first player there,” Durham said. “He’s obviously talented and he’s just super focused on what he has to do on the court. He’s a really hard worker. You’re not going to outwork him… Ever.”
Seems like a spot on assessment for a player who pulls three-a-days, which include an early morning grind session before school, extensive weight training and a night session where he can’t leave before making, not taking, 300 jump shots.
“I usually shoot about 75 percent with that drill,” Sexton said. “I’m, like, obsessed with getting better.”
Sexton’s relentlessness has paid off big.
Since his EYBL dominance, Sexton has picked up offers from Arizona, Kansas, LSU, Florida State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Arkansas, among others.
“I already had offers, but bigger offers have come since my play in EYBL,” said Sexton, who led Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) to a state runner-up finish this season, averaging 29 points, seven rebounds and four assists a game. “I remember when Coach (Sean) Miller and Coach (Shaka) Smart called me, it was crazy! It’s definitely cool to see your hard work payoff, but, honestly, the only thing it makes me want to do is work harder. I don’t think I’ve made it because bigger colleges are offering.”
He’ll have the same mentality whenever the player rankings update and inevitably include him.
“That’ll be cool, but that stuff can be a distraction too,” Sexton said. “I’m pretty confident so I don’t need that for confidence. My five goals coming into this season were to get an invite to USA Basketball, which I did, go to Nike Skills Academy, make Peach Jam and then make the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand games. That’s a tough list, but I’m dedicated to making it happen. This season is just proving what I already knew: With hard work anything is possible.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY