#10 Derrick Walton Jr.
Over the past two years in Ann Arbor, Trey Burke became a household name after bursting onto the scene his freshman year following Darius Morris’s departure to the NBA. Burke was an unknown going into his freshman year, but quickly turned heads before ultimately racking up a bevy of individual honors, including the Naismith College Player of the Year award, in a sophomore season that ended in the National Championship game. Now, another freshman will be called upon to fill perhaps the biggest crater in this Michigan team’s lineup. Let’s take a closer look at him today.
Background: In the summer of 2011, when high school juniors were being recruited heavily, evaluated closely, and finally offered in June, Michigan identified three point guard prospects – Monte Morris, Demetrius Jackson, and Derrick Walton, Jr – as being worthy of an offer. Since John Beilein has taken over in Ann Arbor, it has become increasingly evident that his offense thrives most when an outstanding point guard is leading the way, and one of these three would be next in line.
#21 Zak Irvin
To wrap up our 2013 Michigan basketball (scholarship) freshman previews, we will finally take a look at the top-ranked player of the class, Zak Irvin. While this class may not have the numbers or names of last year’s, it certainly addresses Michigan’s needs across the board with a point guard, a wing, and a big, all of whom are nearly consensus 4-stars, and is topped off by Irvin, a big-time scorer in high school who has played with someone who is already a top player in the Big Ten.
Background: The recruitment of Zak Irvin didn’t go much different from Glenn Robinson III’s, or that of many other Michigan players, when all was said and done. Irvin was a somewhat unheralded recruit from the suburbs of Indianapolis once again flying under the radar through his sophomore year before committing to Michigan in the summer before junior year started. Time and again, it seems that Beilein’s eye for talent early on in the process is the difference maker in securing commitments from players who develop into stars over time, but credit is also due to consistently tremendous work ethics from the players and the Michigan coaching staff’s ability as a whole to form tight bonds with guys they truly covet right from the beginning.
#34 Mark Donnal
Background: Like many Michigan prospects in the John Beilein era, Mark Donnal flew under the radar and committed to the program he felt most comfortable with early in his high school career the day Beilein called with an offer. Following the pattern, Donnal was pretty much an unknown out of the Toledo area until receiving that Michigan offer on June 15, 2011 – the first day coaches were officially allowed to extend offers to the 2013 class – and proceeding to climb the rankings. It’s the same story that happened with Glenn Robinson III in last year’s class and many others before.
With Donnal, however, there were never any fireworks on the recruiting circuit. Few, if any, other schools came calling; perhaps they thought he was too much of a tweener or to slow to want or perhaps they simply knew Donnal had found the perfect fit for his game in Ann Arbor and would be wasting time in pursuit.