ANN ARBOR—Growing up in and around the game of basketball, Michigan freshman Derrick Walton always had the ball in his hands, running the team from the point guard spot.
“My dad kept me around the game so just sitting around the TV watching point guards pick apart defenses off pick and rolls and things like that,” Walton said. “I just picked up on that and (put) that into my game.
“I would say that made, a great deal of my success was being able to make great decisions.”
No longer coached by Derrick Walton Sr. at Chandler Park (Mich.) Academy, Michigan coach John Beilein has taken over the reins in Walton’s development, known for being as hard on his point guards as anyone on the floor.
“I expected it,” Walton said. “He told me that a while back so coming in here I expected (it).”
Charged with the task of being the new guy and next one in line following the departure of 2012-13 National Collegiate Player of the Year, Trey Burke, as potentially the next starting point guard for the Wolverines, Walton isn’t sweating the natural expectations heaped on him from the outside.
“My mindset is just come in and do what I do best,” Walton said. “And that’s just be me. Knowing that I don’t have to be Trey is kind of a lot of weight off my shoulders, but coming in I knew I didn’t have to be.”
“While they have a lot of similar qualities, they are different players,” John Beilein said. “Trey could really feel when it was time to shoot, when was the best shot. And I’ll tell you, when he took what he thought was a bad shot I probably thought it was a bad shot.
“I think Derrick is much more aware, I’m going to try to make the right play and it could be my shot. In fact, we’re going to probably urge him to shoot it more.
“They both have these great qualities of having a feel for what it takes to help us win.”
Beilein later added, “I‘ve seen great decision making by Derrick, which is really good. Very few freshmen, you don’t see that type of thing.”
Still uncertain who will be given the ball at the start of the game in Michigan’s exhibition opener Tuesday night against Concordia, Walton or returning sophomore Spike Albrecht, the Wolverines have the weapons necessary for the freshman to showcase his decision making and special passing ability.
“Coach Beilein is a very intelligent coach,” Walton said. “The way he uses our athletes, I’m with it cause I’m sure it’s going to be the right decision for the team.
Walton added, “I’ve seen jaw dropping plays over the last couple weeks. Just the talent here is crazy. These guys can really do some great things on the court.”