Alabama to hold out prized freshman Collin Sexton amid eligibility concerns

Team USA’s Collin Sexton dribbles down the floor guarded by World Team’s Lindell Wigginton during the first half of the Nike Hoop Summit basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, April 7, 2017. (Billy Gates/The Oregonian via AP)

The most celebrated basketball recruit to sign with Alabama in years won’t be in uniform when the Crimson Tide hosts Alabama-Huntsville in an exhibition game on Monday night.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne announced just prior to tipoff that the Crimson Tide are holding out heralded freshman point guard Collin Sexton until he receives clearance to play from the NCAA.

“The NCAA informed us late this afternoon that Colin Sexton has not had his eligibility reinstated by the NCAA,” Byrne said in a statement. “We don’t have any further information at this time, but we will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and work toward a resolution that results in Colin’s timely reinstatement. While we are disappointed, the right decision was to err on the side of caution for tonight’s exhibition game.”

Sexton’s eligibility issue is believed to stem from the federal investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball. Alabama basketball administrator Kobie Baker resigned in September after an FBI complaint revealed he had accepted a bribe from a financial advisor in exchange for urging the father of a “highly regarded” Atlanta-area player to get his son to sign with that advisor.

Sexton is from Mableton, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The McDonald’s All-American and consensus top 10 recruit earned MVP honors at the U-17 World Championships in Spain last year after leading the gold medal-winning U.S. team in both scoring and assists.

An elite defense helped Alabama win 19 games last season under coach Avery Johnson, but the Tide’s offense was 153rd in efficiency and lacked the firepower to make an NCAA tournament push. Sexton’s arrival was expected to reinvigorate Alabama’s offense and give the Crimson Tide hope of securing an NCAA bid for the first time since 2012.

That’s all in doubt now with Alabama apparently unwilling to risk playing Sexton out of fear it might have to vacate any victories to which he contributes. The Crimson Tide open the regular season on Friday against Memphis, and it appears they’ll be without their most important player.

– – – – – – –

Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Follow @JeffEisenberg