In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 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 No. 16 in the rankings. Walton Jr. has been a main stay in the Wolverines lineup for a few season now and will be looked to as a senior leader for the first time during his tenor at Michigan.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #16 Derrick Walton Jr:
- Eligibility: Senior
- Career Totals: 89 Games, 2730 minutes, 882 points, 381 rebounds, 310 assists
- 2015-’16 Averages: 33.6 mins, 11.6 pts, 5.5 rebs, 4.5 asts, 0.1 blks, 1.8 stls
- Positional Role: Point Guard
Derrick Walton Jr. has been a mainstay in the Wolverines lineup for many years now. Seeing both the highs and lows of the program over the past three years, Walton will now be looked to for senior leadership for the first time during his tenure at Michigan.
Walton brings a lot to the table both offensively and defensively for the Wolverines. When playing off the ball, Walton is able to shoot from all over the court. His three point shooting improved from his sophomore to junior year, although he generally isn’t a volume shooter. When playing with the ball, Walton is a great passer. His assist numbers do not jump off the page but he sets up plenty of plays for Michigan.
Walton is also one of the best rebounding guards in the conference. He shows the rare ability to chase down missed shots and grab offensive rebounds when the opposing team is napping. His rebounding totals have improved during each of his three seasons in college, totaling 5.5 during 2015-2016.
When Walton gets to the line he is easily Michigan’s best free throw shooter. Late in games that Michigan leads, Walton is the player who needs the ball in his hands. No one gives fans more confidence than Walton at the line, who shot 82 percent from the charity stripe last season.
Areas of Improvement
Walton is an exceptional passer, but his court vision can be lacking. Particularly, this happens when he gets too aggressive at passing the ball. A prime example was Walton’s pass to Kameron Chatman during last season’s Big Ten Tournament against Indiana. After Walton swung the ball to the corner, he was visibly upset at wanted the ball back. Nonetheless, all things turned out alright with that shot but even Walton would admit he made the wrong pass in that situation.
Walton also struggles attacking the rim. His shot selection falls mostly from mid-range or deeper. Walton often struggles finishing at the rim, making him reluctant to attack the basket late in games. However, late it games is precisely when Walton needs to attack. As mentioned, Walton is one of the best free throw shooters on the Wolverines roster. The key for Walton is getting to the line. He did attempt a career high 112 free throws last season but he will need to be more aggressive as a senior.
Walton was thrown into the fire very quickly at Michigan, replacing the National Player of the Year and playing point guard on an Elite Eight team as a freshman. Even though the point guard is traditionally the leader on the team, Walton has never needed to be the leader in the locker room.
Having played on teams with Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht means Walton has played under great leadership and beloved teammates. Now he is the senior point guard on a team that has a large roster turnover and talented recruiting class. He will need to be a leader on and off the court if Michigan will want to make the NCAA Tournament.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Michigan)
- #22 - Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois)
- #21 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
- #20 - Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #19 - James Blackmon (Indiana)
- #18 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #17 - Corey Sanders (Rutgers)
- #16 - Derrick Walton, Jr. (Michigan)
- #15 - to be continued ...