Collin Sexton Is the Russell Westbrook of College Basketball

This is Tom Crean’s thought, but it’s true: Collin Sexton is the Russell Westbrook of college basketball. Jay Bilas says he’s the best guard in the class and will be the first guard taken in the NBA draft.

This has an obvious implication for the Steph Curry of College Basketball, but that is neither here nor there. Sexton may not quite be on Westbrook’s level athletically — who is? — but his game is exciting to watch for all the same reasons.

Like Westbrook, Sexton is extraordinarily fast, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether he has the ball or not. Heaven help you if he gets a long rebound on the move. Also like Westbrook, he puts up huge numbers and is a little spotty as a shooter. As with Trae Young, you can tell Sexton’s game is still in development. But it may be further along than Westbrook’s was at the same age. Remember, Westbrook stayed at UCLA for two years, backing up Darren Collison as a freshman. Westbrook was third-team all-conference as a sophomore after averaging 13 points four rebounds and four assists on a Final Four UCLA team led by Kevin Love.

There are no Darren Collisons or Kevin Loves on Alabama’s roster, so like Westbrook in Oklahoma City after Durant left, Sexton carries a heavy load.

Sexton averages 19 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists, shooting 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from the 3-point line. He has had his bad nights — 3-for-10 against Arkansas, 2-for-13 against Ole Miss, 4-for-16 against LSU — but he also had 40-6-5 against Minnesota, 30 against Arizona, 31 and 7 against Auburn, 17-8-6 against Florida.

And he just did this:

Sexton spent the first part of the season swallowed by the all-consuming wave of Trae Young, and by the looks of things he’ll have a hard time edging out seniors like Jalen Brunson and Devonte Graham on All-America teams.

But unless Alabama faces Arizona in this tournament (that would happen in the national title game), the Crimson Tide will have the most talented player on the floor in any game it plays.

All of which brings up an interesting question: Would you rather have College Russell Westbrook or College Steph Curry, all other things being equal?

Personally, I’m no longer convinced Young is Steph Curry 2.0 — even in college, Curry never looked reckless — but Young is the closest thing college basketball has to Curry, and he is the first of what I assume will be a generation of young basketball players who have adopted Curry’s game and adapted it for their own use.

It’s just that that hasn’t worked out real well for Oklahoma, which hasn’t won a game away from home this calendar year. Most Big 12 teams were able to frustrate and neutralize Young, and against Oklahoma this year that’s all you need to do. There is plenty of film on this now.

Sexton’s game relies on a lesser degree of difficulty, which makes it a little more reliable. He’d be my choice.

On the other hand, you never know when Young is going to make 10 3s and six Globetrotter layups while you’re trying to run your precious sets. 

What do you think?

The Big Lead