In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Derrick Walton, Jr. of Michigan, who came in at #20 in the rankings. While Walton may not be the highest ranked Wolverine on this list, he will be a very important piece to a team that should be much improved from their 16-16 finish during the 2015-2016 season.
'BTP 25' - #20 Derrick Walton Jr:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 56 games, 1,622 minutes, 498 points, 201 rebounds, 163 assists
- 2014-15 Averages: 33.3 min, 10.7 pts, 4.7 rebs, 3.0 asts, 0.1 blks, 1.2 stls
- Position: Point Guard
While Michigan finished just 8-10 in the Big Ten last season, John Beilein's team had a lot more talent than what their record showed. Ranked in the top-25 pre-season, the Wolverines were plagued by injuries to Caris LeVert and Walton. Both players missed the majority of the Big Ten schedule and Michigan will be looking for a bounce back year with the backcourt duo once again in the lineup. A top-10 point guard in the 2013 recruiting class, Walton Jr. had played well in his first two seasons in Ann Arbor, but will look to take his game to the next level in 2015-16.
Walton has a solid shooting stroke with a quick release. He shot a very impressive 41% from deep his freshman season, and followed that up with a solid 36% in his sophomore campaign that was shortened by a toe injury. Walton also has a great touch at the line shooting over 80% for his career. In addition to his exceptional shooting, Walton also has the ability to play multiple positions for the Wolverines. He can play off the ball when Spike Albrecht handles, but can also play the point and create offense at times for John Beilein. Walton is also a great rebounder for his size, pulling down almost 5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season. This is a big help to a Michigan that plays a very small lineup at times during the season.
Areas for Improvement
A big area for improvement is Walton's overall shooting percentage. While he shoots well from outside, he shot just 35% overall from the field in 2014-15. This can be done by finishing better at the rim and in the mid-range. Walton has a good all around game finding his teammates, shooting from deep, and rebounding, but has struggled with his lack of size to finish inside the arc. Walton could also improve his assist to turnover ratio as it was just 3 to 2 in 2014-2015.
This could be a breakout season for Derrick Walton Jr. After having a very solid freshman campaign, his sophomore year was shortened by a toe injury that kept him out during the majority of the Big Ten schedule. If he can continue shooting well from outside and complement that with his solid all around game through assists and rebounds, Walton Jr could find himself on the 2nd or 3rd team All-Big Ten.