On Saturday, January 27, Alabama hosted Oklahoma as part of the Big 12-SEC challenge. This game was arguably the most exciting, as it contained the top two point guard prospects for the upcoming NBA Draft: Collin Sexton and Trae Young. Alabama beat Oklahoma 80-73, and both point guards offered a lot to like.
Warning: The YouTube video I used to re-watch and clip was removed, so my clips stop at the start of the second half.
Playmaking/ decision making
Video #1: Trae Young makes a nice alley-oop pass for the assist. This was a notable play because despite Sexton increasing pressure, Young was able to keep his eyes on the play and deliver a nearly perfect pass for an early assist. This is a great display of composure, as most other freshmen guards would have panicked and made a different play.
Video #2: Trae Young gets pressured by Sexton again, this time he does panic and makes a play that leads to a turnover by passing it to a teammate who is still within the trap and steps out of bounds. This is both great defense by Sexton and a youthful play by Young. However, the play could’ve gone worse for Young.
Video #3: Trae Young keeps his head up and makes a nice transition pass over the Alabama defense. Yet again early on, Young was displaying his excellent vision.
Video #4: Young gets space, but takes time and allows for Sexton to closeout. Young misses the 3. On the other end, Sexton gets back on offense quickly, out-muscles Young inside for an easy 2. This was a big one for me, because it looked like Young got a little cocky and distracted from the main goal- make the shot and move onto the next possessions. Coaches hate when young guys do things like this. It shouldn’t hold much stock, however, unless this becomes more commonplace.
Jump shooting/ shot selection
Video #5: Collin Sexton with the impressive and improved mechanics on an off-the-dribble jumper. Often times, his guide hand and shooting hand will interfere. Here is one example from the game I attended in Baton Rouge. While the shot went in, it’s still unpleasant to see him having that bad tendency in his mechanics. Seeing improvement in this game was a major sign, as Sexton’s shot is arguably his biggest concern going forward.
Video #6: Trae Young’s shot selection has been an issue for Young all season, and this was just another example. 7 seconds into the shot clock, he takes a heavily contested step-back deep 2. This was not a smart play.
Video #7: An NBA play from Trae Young here with the drive and dish. This is a part of his game that really makes him special. His vision is elite nearly everywhere. His big men perform significantly better because of his passing instincts.
Overall, Young forced a lot of difficult shots that have worked all season, but were not as easy against Sexton, who has a near 6’7 wingspan and attacks closeouts quickly. Young took many of his difficult shots amidst Alabama hot streaks. Part of this was in his decision making, where like video #6, he takes a rushed and contested shot instead of letting the offense flow.
Video #8: Young takes Sexton off the dribble as Sexton wants Young to go left. Good idea, but Sexton’s recovery time was too slow to make it successful. This was also a nice little runner from Young. If Young can display that as a consistent weapon, it’ll really enhance other parts of his offensive game.
Video #9: Trae Young shows his ball handling, and yet again his in-between game to draw the foul. That element of his game is underrated.
Both prospects displayed their top 10 talents in this game. Young, despite some poor decision making and shot selection, still shot 4-9 from 3 and 8 assists with 17 points. Sexton, yet again, showed his explosiveness and elite ability to get to the basket. Young displayed more of an in between game with his floater and also using the JJ Barea move of trapping his defender on his backside to get an open look, which is an advanced move for any NBA prospect. I believe Sexton has significantly higher upside on defense, which he displayed on Saturday, even if it wasn’t always against Young. While there was not as much Sexton vs Young as people had necessarily wanted, viewers still got a good look at both. Expect both to be in the top 10 as well as the first two point guards off the board in the upcoming NBA draft.