The Michigan coaching staff's latest victory is significant not only because of the talent added, but also for the trend it seems to signal the end of. In the past, late runs at prime Wolverine targets by college basketball's perennial powers may have derailed pending commitments. That didn't happen in mid June when Mark Donnal declined a last minute visit invite from Duke so he could commit to Michigan. It also didn't happen today when Derrick Walton spurned late overtures from Michigan State, and chose instead to become a Wolverine.
"I kind of was thinking Michigan the whole way, but I was holding it until August," Walton admitted. "I just wanted to hold it until Monday. The visit to Michigan State was supposed to happen Tuesday, but that's not going to happen."
That's likely music to the ears of John Beilein who with this commitment further silences the initial doubts many held about his ability to lure talent to Ann Arbor.
"He was happy," said Walton of his future coach's reaction to the news. "I really couldn't hear him no more after I said it (laughter). It was real real loud!"
For Walton, witnessing the Wolverines on-court success last season proved to be a crucial factor in his decision. It illustrated to him just how much he could thrive in the Maize & Blue.
"I like the opportunity, the coaching staff, and just the style of play," he said. "It is probably the best fit for me. I'm an unselfish point guard that can score, but would rather pass it. Plus I can defend. I'm just an overall good teammate."
There was also another huge factor in Walton's decision to end his recruitment.
"Coach (Bacari) Alexander was probably the biggest reason," he reported. "I probably talked to him every day the last two weeks. Just from him being from here I can relate to him on a lot of things. Off the court I know I can just trust him."
That trust extended to Walton's parents. In the end it was mom and dad that gave the final seals of approval for their son's choice.
"My mom was kind of happy because she always thought of Michigan as a real good school," Walton stated. "Plus she wanted me to stay close to home. My dad just asked me was I sure. When I told him, ‘yeah', he just said ‘let's do it.'"
"My mom is cool people. My dad can be a pain in the butt, but he's alright! (laughter)."
All kidding aside, Walton credits his dad for having the most significant impact on his game to date. The elder Walton continues to stress that his son "be a coach on the floor" and "become more aggressive." With his college decision behind him and two full years to further hone his skills before heading to the next level, the future Wolverine floor general is determined to get even better. When he allows himself to think ahead a few years to when he'll finally suit up with the likes of Donnal, Glenn Robinson, and Zak Irvin, he can hardly hide his excitement.
Said Walton, "It's going to be crazy!"