Michigan's next point guard could be freshman Derrick Walton
6:25 PM, Jul 20, 2013
12:05 AM, Jul 21, 2013
(WXYZ) - This fall, Michigan's basketball team will have a major void to fill.
Trey Burke is gone to the NBA, leaving behind a legacy as one of the all-time greats in Ann Arbor. His vacant job as the starting point guard could be filled by incoming freshman Derrick Walton.
The Detroit native will have the transition to college basketball to focus on before he worries about competition with Spike Albrecht.
Nowhere in his plans: competing with Trey Burke.
"Everybody could say you can't really replace what he did last year, so my main thing is to come in and do what I'm going to do, and not really try to be what he was," Walton says.
That attitude has always been Derrick. Raised by a basketball coach, his father, Derrick Sr., preached 'self motivation' as the Walton Way.
"I started at a really young age, but when I really dedicated myself, I would say I was around nine, ten years old. Ever since then, it's been a part of everyday life."
This fall, basketball fans will get their first real look at Walton on the college stage. His father knew his son was special since he was posting 40 points a game in middle school, but it wasn't until a cold day this past December when Derrick Sr. knew his son had the work ethic to match his talents.
"Christmas, everybody was at home opening gifts, eating food," Derrick Sr. recalls. "Not Derrick. He's in the gym."
Raising his son in what he calls a 'military home,' Walton remembers that day with a smile. His son had committed to play for Michigan in 2011, and so attention was at an all-time high. The younger Walton knew he had a game the next day, and asked his dad to leave the holiday celebrations behind.
"He just said, 'Dad, I gotta get in the gym.' Being here, it's cold, but we were in here getting up 500 shots."
All the success Walton experienced at a young age was a temptation. Derrick, Jr. admits that much, but learned how to properly handle himself while watching others.
"I've seen multiple guys let media and friends knock them off what they really want to do. It was a challenge once they got to that level. I made sure I wasn't gonna be the same way," he says.
Now that challenge begins for Derrick. He's been in Ann Arbor for a month, with a new coach for the first time in a long time. John Beilein takes dad's spot courtside.
That doesn't mean the elder Walton will disappear. He jokes he'll coach from the stands, but when it's time for Derrick's first game, he's not ashamed to admit he'll be a wreck.
"I've loved Michigan ever since I was little. For him to be on honored to put that jersey on, I'll probably tear up," he says, holding back emotions.
When everyone's looking for the next Trey Burke this fall, at least one man will be happy just to see 'WALTON' on the back of a Michigan jersey.
After that moment, it's time to get back to work, because that's the Walton Way.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter