O’Brien: Alabama recruit Collin Sexton dazzles at Powerade Jam Fest

Collin Sexton from Mableton, GA wins the 2017 McDonald's All American dunk contest. Held at the Keating Sports Center at IIT 03-27-17. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

Collin Sexton, a 6-3 guard from Mableton, Georgia, wasn’t content to just win the Powerade Slam Dunk Contest on Monday at Illinois Tech’s Keating Sports Center.

The Alabama recruit wanted to put an exclamation point on the night and grab just a little bit more of the spotlight, so he went for an encore dunk. A risky move in an event televised live on ESPN2.

It didn’t go according to plan. Sexton missed both dunk attempts on the encore and things sort of fizzled out.

“I’m still glad I did it,” Sexton said. “I should have made it but it’s alright.”

Sexton’s winning dunk was a beautiful 360 degree spin and slam. Simple, sweet and effective. This wasn’t just an exhibition for Sexton, he said he’s been practicing for three weeks. He’s also clearly a major student of the dunk contest.

“I got my dunks from Gerald Green when he was a McDonald’s All-American,” said Sexton, who was only six years old when Green won the dunk contest in 2005.

The hardwork and creativity showed in every round. Sexton was the best dunker throughout. In the second round he had a teammate run in front of him along the baseline and throw the ball off the side of the backboard. Sexton jumped, caught the ball and dunked it over his back in one smooth motion for a perfect score.

Trae Young, an Oklahoma recruit from Norman North in Oklahoma, won the three-point contest.

“[Gary Trent Jr.] started off hot,” Young said. “But I felt like I had a really good chance of winning it.”

Young is a consensus top twenty recruit. The 6-2 guard averaged 43 points this season and had a career-high 62 points in February, setting a Class 6A record in Oklahoma.

Young had several of the blue bloods recruiting him, but opted to go to his state school. That’s extremely rare for high-profile recruits these days. He’s also one of just 10 All-Americans that went to a traditional high school instead of one of the powerhouse prep schools.

Last year the McDonald’s All-American Game organizers went glitzy and glamorous, holding the event at the Chicago Theatre. This year’s event followed the typical blueprint of letting a local small college host.

Illinois Tech coach Todd Kelly, a St. Martin de Porres grad, took full advantage. Kelly had several high-priority recruits on campus for the nationally-televised festivities.

Kelly, a St. Martin de Porres grad, has been putting the Illinois Tech program on the map in Division III over the past three years. The Scarlet Hornets finished 22-6 this past season. Getting a little attention on ESPN will only help his cause.


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