Derrick Walton Jr.
Congrats to 2013 Michigan basketball signees Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin for being named Gatorade Player of the Year for the states of Michigan and Indiana, respectively. The winners were "selected based on athletic production and impact in season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership."
From the post on Walton:
“Derrick Walton’s work ethic and determination is absolutely phenomenal,” said Chandler Park athletic director John Jergovich. “He’s here every morning at 6 a.m. before school starts taking shots and working on his game. He’s a go-getter on and off the court. Once he sets his goals, both athletically and academically, he’ll do anything to reach them.”
From the post on Irvin:
“Zak Irvin is the best player I’ve seen all year, maybe the best I’ve seen in many years,” said Doug Mitchell, head coach at North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.). “He can get a shot any time he wants, he is in superb condition and he loves to play defense.”
Also today, the Associated Press named Walton the Class B Player of the Year.
Rod Beard interviewed Derrick Walton Jr. for a Detroit News profile. Here are some highlights from the article:
Rated in the top 100 nationally in his class, Walton was an important recruit — positionally and geographically — for Michigan coach John Beilein and assistant coach Bacari Alexander as they try to build on the success of U-M's surprising 21-14 record and fourth-place finish in the Big Ten last season.
"Coach Bacari said it a lot — that he wanted a lot of guys from the Detroit area, so I guess I was his main target and it was a priority for me to come to Michigan," Walton said. "What they said is they wanted to bring U-M back to a focal point for guys in the Detroit area."
Hopefully, Carlton Brundidge and Walton are the beginning of a steady stream of top Detroit area players choosing to head to Ann Arbor. A couple of 2014 prospects to keep an eye on in this regard: Maceo Baston Jr. (Troy) and Lindsey Hunter IV (Southfield Christian).
The first part of the following portion of the article makes me a bit nervous, but Walton seems solidly committed to Michigan:
While he's not opposed to considering other schools, Walton acknowledges there are several factors that will make rethinking his decision unlikely.
"Choosing Michigan was just me," Walton said. "I just thought it was the best place for me, and I just went with my first mind. I stayed home because I thought the coaching staff at Michigan was like family and I could rely on them to be there for me every day.
"It was the campus and the education. The degree is ranked really high. That was a big factor, and the vibe you get once you step on campus was crazy. Having a good football team and being on the rise again in basketball was a good feeling."
Walton also confirms that MSU was seriously interested in him:
"MSU came at me pretty hard, but they were supposedly officially going to offer Aug. 2, and since I made my decision Aug. 1, there was no point," Walton said.
In the latest Scout rankings for 2013, Walton moved up from #77 to #57. Interestingly, Monte Morris actually shot ahead of Walton into the #50 position. (Not that there's a huge difference between those two spots.)
The 2013 Scout rankings also have Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Boston, at #51. In this article he claims that Michigan is among a large number of schools pursuing him:
"Probably, Michigan, Missouri, Pitt, Providence, Syracuse and UConn," he said of the schools recruiting him the hardest. But did add, "everyone is coming pretty hard."
With it being so early in the process, Okonoboh has decided to keep his options open and hear from schools. He has yet to trim his list or name any favorites for that matter.
In ESPN’s updated basketball rankings following the July evaluation period, Zak Irvin moved up slightly, from #74 to #70, while Mark Donnal made a similar-sized move in the opposite direction, going from #81 to #84. Derrick Walton Jr. remains outside the ESPN top 100, ranked 25th among point guards. As a point of comparison, Monte Morris has the same “scouts grade” of 91 as Walton but is ranked 99th overall and 21st among point guards. So Walton is just outside ESPN’s top 100.
One other basketball recruiting note: Stefan Jankovic narrowed his list down to five, eliminating Michigan from consideration. His final five are Wake Forest, Georgetown, Missouri, Florida State, and Purdue.