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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Walton headlines Michigan's Top 100 haul

By Michael Rothstein

The Michigan theme of recruiting basketball players who are fast risers in the rankings has continued.

Last season, the Wolverines had no players in the Super 60 for the Class of 2013. Now, with the ESPN 100 released Thursday, three of Michigan’s four verbal commits have made the rankings, along with a fourth player the school is targeting.

The Michigan portion of the list is headlined by point guard Derrick Walton (Detroit/Chandler Park Academy), who went from unrated in the Super 60 to the No. 39 player in the nation in the initial ESPN 100.

It is a major move for Walton, who was rated as the No. 20 point guard in his class last season. His game has shot up lately, including an appearance representing the United States in the Albert Schweitzer tournament in Germany earlier this spring.

Wing Zak Irvin (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) is rated as the No. 61 player in the country after a strong season and early summer basketball season.

Forward Mark Donnal (Whitehouse, Ohio/Anthony Wayne), who is working on his game this summer with former Bowling Green and Indiana coach and current ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, is the No. 65 player in the class. Dakich, who coaches Donnal's summer team, Indiana Elite, is focusing on Donnal’s post game to complement his shooting stroke.

Dakich is also trying to push Donnal to run the floor better.

Michigan target Reggie Cameron (Paterson, N.J./Hudson Catholic) is another player who has been making a big move, rising from the No. 67 power forward in the last ranking pool to the No. 67 player overall.

The moves for the Michigan verbal commits fits with Wolverines coach John Beilein’s ability to find somewhat unheralded prospects early. In the class of 2012, he identified wing Glenn Robinson III early and he turned into a five-star prospect. In previous seasons he also plucked Trey Burke, Darius Morris, Zack Novak and Stuart Douglass as players and turned them into Big Ten starters or better.

It is the second straight season the Wolverines have had three recruits in the ESPN 100. In 2011, Michigan placed both Carlton Brundidge and Burke in the Top 100. In 2010, Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. were in the Top 100, but the four of them were in the bottom quarter of players ranked.