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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
U-M commits excited about Final Four

By Michael Rothstein

Zak Irvin
Zak Irvin says he and fellow commit Derrick Walton have been texting like crazy during U-M's run.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin will be teammates next season. This past weekend, that bond grew a little more.

As their future school, Michigan, upset Kansas in the Sweet 16, decimated Florida in the Elite Eight and made its first Final Four since before the recruits were born, they texted each other all weekend.

“We were really excited,” Irvin said. “Especially with Kansas, down with a minute to go, we were going crazy.”

That is understandable. When Irvin and Walton committed to Michigan in 2011, the Wolverines were still rebuilding. They had come off an NCAA tournament berth, had talented players coming in -- but being a Final Four contender appeared far off.

Yet the two believed in the vision Michigan coach John Beilein and his assistants had, so they bought in, figuring by the time they arrived, Michigan might have a chance to make a Final Four run.

“I knew they would eventually,” Walton said. “But this fast, I didn’t think it would be this fast.”

And that is why the two ESPN Top 35 recruits shared such excitement. All of a sudden, they are commitments for a Final Four program, and in less than a week they could be commitments to a national title winner.

It led the two of them to dream, too. Irvin started envisioning when he will put on the Michigan jersey for the first time next season. Walton started thinking of what he’ll need to do next season to make sure this isn't a one-and-done lengthy NCAA run for the Wolverines.

As Michigan continued to play well, the conversation between the two steered there.

“It was like, ‘That’s going to be us next year,' " Walton said. “We have to make it to the Final Four.”

The two of them will have done that already -- sort of. Walton and Irvin will already be in Atlanta for the Final Four, as they will compete in Friday night's high school 3-point championship at Greater Atlanta Christian School.

Then Saturday, their future team will be in the Georgia Dome playing for a much bigger title. A chance to play for the national championship.

“I was really hoping they would win,” Irvin said. “Because I’d be able to see the team in Atlanta.”

Walton said he isn’t going to go to the game as he is heading back to Michigan on Saturday to celebrate his birthday, which is this week. Irvin, though, is contemplating it, if he can find a ticket.

Next season, though, both are hoping no ticket is necessary and that, much like their soon-to-be new teammates, they are there on the floor, on their own.