INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Collin Sexton was handed a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform along with his final title and the No. 2 stitched onto the again of it when the purpose guard out of Alabama arrived at his introductory information convention Friday.
Yet regardless of his shared place and jersey quantity, Sexton does not really feel any strain to fill the function that Kyrie Irving as soon as occupied.
“I feel like I’m not going to have to live up to anybody’s shoes,” mentioned Sexton, chosen with the No. Eight decide within the draft that the Cavs acquired from the Boston Celtics after they traded Irving away final summer time. “I’m going to come in and learn and be the best player I can be on the court as well as off the court.”
In Irving’s six years with the group, the purpose guard blossomed from the No. 1 decide right into a perennial All-Star and NBA champion, hitting the most important shot in franchise historical past with a go-ahead Three-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Yet, by the point he requested a commerce out of Cleveland, his relationships along with his teammates and members of the teaching workers have been strained.
The Cavs see Sexton as a participant they will develop along with.
“When you got guys who work as hard as Collin does, to get to where he wants to get, those are the guys you want on your team and his toughness, his character, being a great student in the classroom — all that exemplifies what we want to do here in Cleveland,” mentioned Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “And I’m glad he’s a part of it.”
Sexton and Lue have a pre-existing relationship courting just a few years again ever since Lue’s private chef, an Atlanta native and good friend of the Sexton household, put Sexton’s father in contact with the Cleveland coach to get recommendation on find out how to navigate his son’s faculty recruiting course of.
Sexton performed on the University of Alabama for coach Avery Johnson who occurred to educate Lue late in his NBA profession when he performed for the Dallas Mavericks.
“Avery is great,” Lue mentioned. “He was the hardest on his point guards because he played the position, he won championships and he was tough on me.”
As powerful as he may need been on Sexton throughout his freshman season, Johnson had nothing however reward for the 19-year-old on a convention name with reporters on Friday morning, saying that he had the potential to be a perennial All-Star within the league — an accomplishment that Johnson, nor Lue, ever reached of their mixed 27 seasons within the NBA.
“The bigger the stage, the better,” Johnson mentioned of Sexton. “He’s not afraid of the big stage, the lights. When you’re playing against all of these elite point guards in the NBA, he’s not going to ask anybody for their autographs, OK? He’s going to show them a healthy dose of respect, but he’s going to think he belongs on the floor. It’s not fabricated. It’s just who he is.”
Lue mentioned he plans to take a private curiosity in Sexton’s improvement by way of exercises with him and Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson in Las Vegas and Los Angeles this summer time.
“I’m just excited, man,” Lue mentioned. “Just to have the ability to have a younger expertise that I might help mould and construct and make higher and educate him what swimsuit to put on, what footwear to put on with a swimsuit, find out how to a tie, if you go to dinner, issues like that that Brian Shaw and Robert Horry and Ron Harper and people guys taught me (with the Los Angeles Lakers), so I am very enthusiastic about that.”
“Winning championships is still our goal and will always be our goal,” Altman mentioned. “But through that process we wanted to focus on long-term success, sustainability. Going through this year we were able to get younger and talented and athletic and have some real momentum going into the future. … For the first time in a long time we’re going to be in the player development business.”
Sexton, whose nickname is “Young Bull,” is thought for being an explosive athlete — he received the slam dunk contest on the McDonald’s All-American Game and excessive jumped 6-foot-Eight throughout highschool monitor competitors — however is making use of his cerebral aspect to attempt to enhance his bounce shot not solely by way of repetitions, however by way of movie research.
“Watching how I was missing and which way the ball was rotating when it was coming off my fingers and stuff like that … I feel like now I have corrected that,” he mentioned.
He says his favourite participant is Kobe Bryant however believes his sport most resembles John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Russell Westbrook, with the previous league MVP in Oklahoma City interesting to him as a result of, “I just like the energy he plays with night in and night out. He doesn’t take any plays off or any games off.” Sexton will not get a lot time without work, both. He will start exercises in Cleveland as quickly as subsequent week earlier than competing with the Cavs’ summer time league group in Las Vegas the primary week of July.
He burst onto the nationwide scene in November when he scored 40 factors in opposition to 14th-ranked Minnesota throughout a sport by which Alabama performed the final 10 minutes Three-on-5 due to a slew of ejections, an harm and one other participant fouling out.
“Growing up you’ll have like AAU games where people will be running late or something, so that’s when you need to do it,” Sexton mentioned with a smile. “Other than that I never expected it.”
One factor he does count on, nevertheless, is to compete within the NBA Finals, which he included in his very public recruiting pitch to LeBron James to return to Cleveland in the course of the draft broadcast on ESPN.
He attended Game four of the 2018 Finals as a spectator, watching the Cavs lose the championship from the stands.
In the long run, he intends to be on the courtroom for it.
“Just the energy when I was sitting and watching the game, like the seats were shaking,” Sexton mentioned. “Fans were screaming. Just, I feel like I’ll be ready to play in something like that when it’s my time.”