Michigan freshman Derrick Walton not asked to be next Trey Burke

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Trey Burke will walk across the podium during Thursday night’s NBA Draft and shake the hand of NBA commissioner David Stern as a likely lottery pick. The former Michigan point guard led the Wolverines to the title game as a sophomore this past season, but two years ago, Burke was tasked with replacing Darius Morris after Morris left Ann Arbor early for the NBA.

Now that incoming freshman Derrick Walton has set foot on the Ann Arbor campus this past weekend, his journey as Michigan’s next point guard begins.

Thankfully, Walton — the runner-up for Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 2013, slightly behind Iowa State commit Monte Morris — isn’t being asked to fill the gigantic void left by the early departure of Burke.

Michigan head coach John Beilein wants Walton, a pass-first 6’0 point guard, to be his own player and not focus on comparisons  as noted in a story by Nick Baumgardner for MLive.

 John Beilein doesn’t expect Walton to be the next Trey Burke. He expects him to be the first Derrick Walton.

“We’re very limited on comparisons,” Beilein said last week. “Other than the things we know about work habits. Just have the work habits and focus. Unpack your bags, you’re here for eight weeks. Unpack your bags, you’re here for four years unless something happens that’s really extraordinary — like what happened with Tim and Trey.

“We’re not a stopover, we’re a destination. And that’s the approach we use.”
While Walton isn’t currently projected as an early NBA draft candidate at this current point in his career, it will be interesting to see how Walton develops not only as Michigan’s potential starting point guard next season, but also as a potential pro prospect after a few years of seasoning.

Michigan coach John Beilein has done a great job getting point guards like Morris and Burke to the NBA even though they didn’t have the best pro potential entering college so Walton will be the next one to watch as his career begins with his summer session in Ann Arbor.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.