Notebook: Live evaluation period underway, Derrick Walton stands out early

Dylan Burkhardt

With an updated NCAA calendar, spring evaluation is back. College coaches took to the road and cramped into AAU gyms across the country. John Beilein and his assistant coaches are no exception and have taken to the road to watch their 2013 commitments as well as catch a number of younger targets.

Here are some early notes from the AAU circuit’s Friday night action and make sure to stay tuned throughout the coming days as we bring you the latest with first hand coverage from Merrillville as well as news and notes from around the country.

Beilein starts in Merrillville

John Beilein took in the action last night in Merrillville, IN where he joined Tom Crean, John Calipari, Mike Brey and Tom Izzo on Friday. Beilein watched 2013 Wolverine commitment Zak Irvin while also catching a number of other stars including top 20 big man Cliff Alexander , Drake Harris, Keita Bates-Diop and Tyler Wideman among others. Beilein didn’t stay long in Merrillville, already onto Minnesota to catch EYBL action today.

Lavall Jordan is on the ground in Merrillville today while Bacari Alexander has been stationed in Minneapolis for the Nike EYBL event. Devin Booker, one of Michigan’s top 2014 prospects, had a big game on Friday night in EYBL action although his Alabama Challenge squad lost to the Family. Booker poured in 17 points on 6-of-11 (3-5 3pt) shooting with five assists and no turnovers in just 20 minutes of action. Jaren Sina, who we interviewed earlier this week, had nine points on 3-of-8 shooting in a 20 point loss to CIA Bounce.

Reggie Cameron, the fastest rising target on Michigan’s 2013 board, will begin action today.

2014 big man target Sean O’Mara is also in action at another tournament in Minnesota. His IBA Select team cruised to an easy victory by almost 50 points and he added 13.


As you would expect, Bacari Alexander has taken to an array of intriguing tweets while catching action on the sidelines:

Walton Impressive in Vegas

Derrick Walton led the Michigan Mustangs to Vegas for the Adidas Exclusive Run and was impressive on Friday night. Walton caught the eye of both and ESPN’s Dave Telep:

Eric Bossi

Michigan has itself another nice point guard on the way in Derrick Walton. The four star point guard runs his team and has a burst off the dribble that allows him to get into the lane and make plays with regularity. He’s also a communicator, plays hard and will ultimately be a very good replacement/complement to Trey Burke.

2015 Star Heads South, Puts on Big Performance

Luke Kennard is one of the top prospects on Michigan’s 2015 recruiting board and he’s already off to a strong start this spring. We posted some footage of Kennard earlier this spring and Beilein has been paying close attention to the freshman star.

Kennard led his King James team to a Friday night win at the King James Southern Exposure event with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Here’s some highlights of the game with Kennard wearing No. 10 in white:

Keeping Options Open

One final tidbit, it’s also worth noting that Michigan coaches were reportedly in Florida watching a pair of IMG prep school recruits, Michigan native Chris Fowler and big man Mango Mathiang, workout earlier this week. The level of interest remains to be seen but it’s another option to watch on the recruiting radar. Here are some couting reports of the post grads from earlier this spring:

Chris Fowler – 6’1 Post-Grad PG – IMG Post Grad: A native of Detroit, Fowler is a smart and strong point guard that runs a team and does what it takes to win. He sees the court well, gets teammates easy baskets and has the ability to create his own shot if necessary. Defensively Fowler plays the ball tough and is quick to jump the passing lanes for steals.

Mango Mathiang – 6’10 Post-Grad C – IMG Post Grad: A native of Australia, Mango is thin but long and athletic. He gets up and down the court very well and loves to finish off lobs. In the half-court his lack of heft keeps him from maintaining post position but he doesn’t shy away from the contact. At the defensive end he is a shot changer and shot blocker.


    Coach Bacari is such a fool!

    And as always, excellent work. Great content.

    • DutchWolverine

      I’m assuming that “fool” is a good thing…in the same way that “bad” and “sick” have been positive terms in the past.

  • One final note: Amedeo Della Valle, who Michigan stopped recruiting after Albrecht’s commit, committed to Ohio State this morning.

    • Flwolve

      Wow, that’s kind of a shocker on Della Valle.  Fowler would have been a nice pickup but he seems redundant after the Albrecht signing.  How many backup PGs do you need in the 2012 class?

      • sane1

        Della Valle committing to OSU after we dropped him was expected.

      • Della Valle to OSU wasn’t much of a surprise to me. He was big on U-M, U-M cancelled his visit. Arizona was pretty much filled up. That left Ohio State or Texas A&M.

        • Sven187

           Plus its a great fit for him because they don’t seem to have many shooters on their roster.

    • DoubES5336

      I find the series of events interesting and it makes me wonder if Beilein was all that interested in ADV in the first place. My understanding is we knew Trey was coming back, but Beilein wanted another body in the back court. If Beilein preferred ADV, why wouldn’t he have told Spike to hold off on his commit, and waited for ADV’s visit to try and snag him?

  • FLiPCiTyBLuE

    I saw this happening as soon as they denied him. I thought he was waiting all along for a ship to open, really feeling Michigan Basketball and wanting to be apart of it. It’s a fact that he waited too long but it was kinda brutal timing how the whole thing went down, Nearing the eve of ADV’s visit we find out about his disgruntled tweet, IMO, it cut close, but them’s the break’s, he should have bumped up his visit by just a few days(perhaps the Thursday before the ESPN weekend tournament).He didn’t and in sneaks a crafty point guard with a sweeet nick name who picks ADV’s pocket for jaw dropping reverse commit layup. 6’5 just got undressed. Glad to get to see Amedeo in the B1G, i really am. Equally stoked to have Spike run through the door! Possible makings for a rivalry within the match up, battle of the glue guy’s. 
    Thanks for the update, Dylan. I already found myself checking yesterday if ADV had committed anywhere…it only figures it would be the scarlet and grey.

  • DingoBlue

    I just rewatched some highlights from Mark Donnal.  He seems to really like to catch immediately in/near the post and turn and shoot (with some reliability according to highlights).  I just wanted to comment see if other people thought this was as good a fit for the 5 as John Beilein could get.

    Able to dunk in short range
    long range shot seems to extend towards 15-20 ft. (not sure about college line yet)
    Constantly moving off the ball looking for the easy bucket.

    I’m not sure we can be all that much more excited.  2012 class is solid, but from what I’ve seen I like the raw talent we have coming in with Donnal, Irvin, and Walton Jr.  Should be an incredible class to back up what we do this coming season.

    • Ben

      Well the word from Vegas is that Donnal is playing very well and he seems stronger with much improved inside game. I think it was Evan Daniels from who said this and he also said that Michigan did a good job getting him early. So it looks like we got another possible riser in the rankings……for those who care about rankings.

    • Mith

      Yeah, its great to know we’ve got a great class coming in to fill whatever gaps are caused next year due to the NBA.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to lose Burke, Hardaway, Robinson and McGary. I don’t think it’ll be all 4, but it could happen. 

    • sane1

      He’s 6’9″ kid with excellent mobility, nice hands(a big plus, IMO), shooting touch, good footwork, pretty good athleticism. The only thing he needs is to get stronger and he has 18 months to fill out some before his first Michigan practice. Outside of someone like Jabari Parker, Mark is as good as it gets.