Alabama adds firepower to help replace Collin Sexton

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              Alabama coach Avery Johnson speaks during the SEC men's NCAA college basketball media day, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Avery Johnson manages to find a silver lining to losing Collin Sexton to the NBA.

Sure, that means replacing one of the Southeastern Conference’s most dynamic players, but it also forces the Crimson Tide to build more offensive diversity.

“Collin was an alpha dog,” Johnson said. “He’s going to score 20 points a game and sometimes teams can load up their defense to try to shut him down. I’m hoping this year that we’ll be a lot more versatile on offense.

“Maybe we’re not going to have one guy that can get us 20 points every night but I’m hoping we’ll have four or five guys that can get us 14 or 15.”

Of course, Sexton was good enough to lead Alabama into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 in his lone season. He was drafted No. 8 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers after ranking second in the SEC in scoring at 19.2 points per game.

Fellow members of last year’s highly rated recruiting class do return, though. Three-point shooter John Petty is back after averaging 10.2 points per game and defensive specialist Herbert Jones also returns. So does senior forward Donta Hall, the Tide’s No. 2 scorer at 10.6 points.

Plus, Alabama’s top recruit, point guard Kira Lewis Jr., re-classified after graduating early and signed in August. The 17-year-old, Division I’s youngest player, was rated a five-star prospect and the No. 26 overall recruit by 247Sports.

Lewis might not be Sexton’s immediate heir apparent with Dazon Ingram also in the mix at point guard, but he could provide a big boost to Alabama’s roster.

Transfer Tevin Mack is now available after sitting out last season. He averaged 14.8 points in 15 games for Texas two years ago.

“He’s going to carry a lot of the load of scoring,” Petty said. “He’s a tremendous scorer, 3-point specialist. I feel like we’ve got some guys that are going to hold their own.”

Alabama must also replace former starting forward Braxton Key, who transferred to Virginia. Guard/forward Riley Norris received a medical redshirt after playing in just nine games last season.

Here are some other things to know about Alabama’s team:

KIRA’S ARRIVAL

The 6-foot-3, 160-pounder averaged 28.5 points and 4.5 assists per game for Hazel Green High School in Meridianville, Alabama. Johnson, a former NBA point guard, said Lewis needs to beef up some for major college basketball.

He said this situation is different from Sexton who coaches assumed would be a one-and-done college player.

“We’re not putting a lot of pressure on this kid to make it to the NBA as soon as possible,” Johnson said. “We want to steadily help him grow and develop and mature. He’ll tell us how fast we can accelerate things with him.”

MACK’S ATTACK

The 6-foot-7 Mack spent two seasons at Texas but was granted his release from his scholarship in February 2017 after a pair of suspensions.

MORE POINTS, PLEASE

Even with Sexton, Alabama finished 12th in the league in scoring with a 72.4-point average.

“We put extreme amounts of pressure on our defense our first three years, so hopefully we’ll be better offensively,” Johnson said.

PETTY’S SHOOTING

Johnson says Petty can be an “elite” 3-point shooter with more consistency, particularly on the road. Petty’s 90 3-pointers was an Alabama freshman record and the program’s fourth-highest total. He made a school-record 10 against Alabama A&M.

SCHEDULE

Alabama’s nonconference schedule includes December games against Arizona and Penn State. The Tide opens SEC play Jan. 5 against preseason No. 2 Kentucky.