Michigan Wolverines: Derrick Walton Jr.

WolverineNation Mailbag 

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s potentially early entrants have made their decisions -- Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the draft, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary out -- and now, the Wolverines roster for next season is starting to take shape.

Also, the most intriguing position battle on Michigan’s football team still has little definition entering the summer.

We address these issues in this week’s WolverineNation Mailbag. Send your questions for next week to @chanteljennings on Twitter or jenningsespn@gmail.com.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan started the week with the expected defections of its starting backcourt to the NBA. It’ll end it by likely remaining in the preseason top 10 for 2013-14 anyway.

More than Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr., the returns of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III were the pieces Michigan needed to come back to avoid a potential major slide next season. And now, they have them.

The return of the two close friends from Indiana gives Michigan depth and top-end talent at every position next season, as they will likely join freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr., sophomore guard Nik Stauskas and either freshman winger Zak Irvin or sophomore wing Caris LeVert in the starting lineup.

[+] EnlargeMitch McGary
AP Photo/Morry GashMitch McGary now needs to prove he can post numbers for a whole season.
Those five -- seven, really, if you include the loser of the Irvin/LeVert battle and the return of three-year starter Jordan Morgan -- could end up as the most talented top seven in the country, non-Kentucky division.

Both guys coming back also signifies a piece of what Michigan coach John Beilein has often preached -- sometimes oddly: that he wants the Ann Arbor school to be a place guys want to stay instead of being a quick stop to the NBA. In reality, college -- and big-time programs -- will always be more of a pit stop than a destination to elite talent, but for McGary and Robinson to turn down being potential lottery selections for one more year at Michigan is significant for Beilein and his program.

It shows those two believe in the development prowess of big man coach Bacari Alexander and wing coach Jeff Meyer to turn them into stronger players. It also reinforces a template Burke set last season of returning and seeing your projected stock improve.

Robinson and McGary have areas in which they need to get better. Robinson needs to add muscle, a reliable outside shot and better defense. McGary still can get in better shape and show he can do what he did during the NCAA tournament for an entire season.

“They are smart kids, have grown a lot this year,” said Wayne Brumm, their former AAU coach with SYF Players. “I think they are really scratching the surface in terms of their game. I think they think that. I think the coaches here know that.

“It’s a real delicate balance between providing for your family and providing for yourself and being a teammate at the University of Michigan.”

The balance has been decided. Robinson and McGary are returning to Michigan. The Wolverines should be a top team again, and with the two of them, they will have a chance at another Final Four run.

Much like Burke a season ago, Thursday likely starts a clock where the decisions for these two players will be different a year from now.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In some ways, Michigan knew this was coming for a year -- from the day Trey Burke said he would return for his sophomore season with the Wolverines.

[+] EnlargeTrey Burke
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesSophomore point guard Trey Burke took Michigan to the Final Four and brought home a Wooden Award.
But much like Darius Morris before him, Trey Burke leaves this Michigan basketball program in much better position than when he entered. When Morris arrived, Michigan had just qualified for its first NCAA tournament berth in a decade. When he left, it had made two NCAA tournaments in three seasons and had recruited a point guard out of Columbus, Ohio with a lot of talent.

When Burke came in, he heard questions about how he could replace Morris, now in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now as he leaves two seasons later, giving Michigan its first-ever Wooden Award winner, its first Final Four in two decades and a program now looking to recruit top-50 players every season, the same question will remain.

What’s next? Can Michigan maintain its consistency and upward ascent even without its 6-foot leader in Ann Arbor. And much like two seasons ago, that answer will be yes.


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WolverineNation Mailbag 

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
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Michigan FreshmanAP Photo/Carlos OsorioMichigan's basketball fortunes next season depend heavily on the offseason decisions of Mitch McGary (left) and Glenn Robinson III (middle).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan reached its first national championship game in two decades on Monday night and while losing to Louisville, one thing became fairly clear in the first hours of the Wolverines’ postseason.

There is a chance this was not a one-off thing at all.

Depending who leaves and who returns to Michigan’s roster, it could be in a similar position next season. But that is over a summer away. There’s still a football season -- and a spring game Saturday -- to go.

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Zak IrvinKelly KlineZak 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.”

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Roundball recruiting 

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
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With Michigan having back-to-back home games and basketball season rapidly approaching, WolverineNation caught up with some of the basketball recruits who have been or will be visiting campus lately to gauge their thoughts on the Wolverines.

We ask that this information stays in The Den, as it is for subscribers only.

On to the update.

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Zak IrvinCourtesy of David DixonZak Irvin's outstanding play on the summer circuit vaulted him 39 spots in the latest rankings.
Zak Irvin said before the July recruiting period began that he wanted to become more than a shooter, to work on his ability to get to the basket. He wanted to round out as much of his game as possible before his senior season, including working with trainer Shon Bolden and some NBA players to pick up pointers.

That work paid off for the Fishers, Ind.. native during July and now in August as well. Irvin became one of the biggest risers in the new 2013 ESPN 100 rankings, leaping from No. 60 in June all the way up to No. 21 in August.

Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr. (Harper Woods, Mich./Chandler Park Academy), Mark Donnal (Whitehouse, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and Austin Hatch (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) comprise the No. 2 class in the country in ESPN.com’s newest team rankings for the Class of 2013, trailing only Florida.

Irvin’s big individual move coincided with a summer where he impressed at every tournament he played in throughout July, vaulting him into being the No. 5 small forward in his class entering his senior season at Hamilton Southeastern.

If Irvin’s new ranking holds, he would be Michigan’s second highest-rated commit since ESPN.com first started doing player rankings in 2007. Last season, Glenn Robinson III finished his ascent as the No. 18 player in the country. At his peak last season, forward Mitch McGary was the No. 2 player in the country, but he was No. 27 in the final rankings.

Irvin wasn’t the only Michigan commit to make a move.

Point guard Derrick Walton (Harper Woods, Mich./Chandler Park Academy) also made a jump from No. 40 in the May rankings up to No. 32. He pushed his way up the point guard rankings as well, moving from No. 9 point to No. 5.

Donnal, the third commit in the Wolverines’ 2013 class in the ESPN 100, dropped from No. 64 to No. 97, but he still gives Michigan three players in the ESPN 100. He is rated the No. 24 power forward in the country.

While Michigan has no 2014 commits, three of the players it has offered are in the ESPN Super 60, led by shooting guard Devin Booker (Moss Point, Miss./Moss Point), who checks in at No. 21, moving up slightly from his No. 23 ranking in May. Forward Keita Bates-Diop (Bloomington, Ill./University) moved up from No. 43 to No. 30 and swingman Trevon Bluiett (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) entered the rankings at No. 50.

More impressively, Booker is considered the No. 2 shooting guard in his class, behind only Rashad Vaughn. Bates-Diop is ranked as the No. 5 power forward and Bluiett as the No. 17 small forward.
Michigan continued with its month-long variety of basketball camps this weekend -- with Friday being the first day of the team camp.

While not as intense or instructional as the college practice camp earlier this month, Michigan did have a few players in with their teams who have either already committed to the school or are a high-profile recruits.

Teams -- including one from Alaska -- competed in pool play Friday and will play in a single-elimination tournament Saturday.

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Derrick Walton Jr. found out through a vibration from his phone. Sitting in class at Chandler Park Academy on Thursday afternoon, he quickly checked the message, clicked the link and found out the work he put in over the past two seasons had panned out.

He was the No. 39 player in the country in the initial 2013 ESPN 100 and the No. 9 point guard in the nation, rocketing up 11 slots in the point guard rankings and entering the national conversation for the first time.

“A couple of my teammates were in class and they were wondering what I was looking at,” Walton Jr. said Thursday afternoon. “When I told them, they were happy for me.”

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John Beilein always wants to be in the Big Ten’s footprint.

As the sixth-year Michigan basketball coach discussed his recruiting philosophy during a wide-ranging conversation with reporters Thursday, he explained the states comprising the Big Ten will often be a focus of his recruiting.

“The footprint of where we are recruiting is still the Big Ten,” Beilein said. “Neighboring states are always good.”

Those neighboring states will make up much of the Michigan roster the next two seasons.

(Read full post)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Derrick Walton Jr., one of two Michigan basketball commits playing in the Spiece Run N’ Slam this weekend, didn’t show much emotion even though in the moment, it would have made sense.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Walton
Courtesy of Adidas VIP ExclusivePG Derrick Walton Jr. played well at the Spiece Run 'N' Slam event in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Seconds after draining a 3-pointer over a defender to force overtime in an elimination game Saturday night, Walton stood there, smiled and pumped his fist a little bit. In many ways, it was just another big moment for him in a tournament where he played extremely well the first two days.

“I didn’t know (it was going in),” Walton Jr. said of when he raised up with less than two seconds left in his final game Saturday.

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