The Michigan men’s basketball team may have stumbled late this season without the senior leadership of guards Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, but the Wolverines who stepped up in their absence received a small token of recognition Monday evening.
Junior guard Derrick Walton Jr. — who, along with junior forward Zak Irvin, suddenly became one of the most experienced players on the court this year — was selected to the All-Big Ten Third team by Big Ten coaches as part of the conference’s annual season-end award show.
Walton didn’t make any of the three all-conference teams chosen by the media, but he did receive an honorable mention. Irvin, his classmate and fellow on-court leader, received an honorable mention from both the coaches and the media.
Walton finished the season as Michigan’s leading scorer in conference play (13.3 points per game) and led the team overall in both assists (4.1) and rebounds (5.7) per game. The 6-foot-1 guard has always been known for his outstanding jumping ability, but he truly put it on display this season when he successfully out-jumped talented Big Ten big men like Maryland’s Diamond Stone for critical late-game boards.
Walton’s most notable performance of the season, though, came on Dec. 19 against Youngstown State, when he posted 10 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to capture Michigan’s fifth triple-double in program history, joining Gary Grant, Manny Harris, Darius Morris and LeVert (who accomplished the feat four days earlier).
Irvin, meanwhile, overcame a slow start caused by offseason back surgery to become one of the Wolverines’ most important players during conference play. In Big Ten contests, he finished second to Walton in points (13.2 per game), assists (3.3) and rebounds (5.1). He posted a season-high 22 points twice — in Michigan’s biggest wins of the year, upsets over then-No. 3 Maryland and then-No. 18 Purdue.