I’ll never forget that March run that the Michigan Wolverines went on to get to that National Championship match up with Louisville, and although it was upsetting losing that game, but it was just as sad knowing that on that upcoming season we would be without our best player, Trey Burke.
Watching Trey come up with those two steals in the final minute to defeat Michigan State, or especially when he led the charge in coming back against Kansas in the Sweet 16, and heaving up the greatest shot I have ever seen, even yelling at the television, when he was called for that clean block on Peyton Siva. It was all incredible, and I fell in love with his play, and while, I know I was not the only Wolverine Junkie who thought of it, but with me being a stubborn twelve-year old version of myself, I said things like “No one can ever replace Trey”, or “We will never get another Point Guard like that.”
On that note, after his Press Conference regarding his departure for the NBA, I remember going on Facebook and checking out Burke’s page. He had just posted a highlight reel on some High School senior who planned on coming to Ann Arbor, calling him “The future of Michigan Basketball.”. His name was Derrick Walton Jr. I watched that Highlight reel about three times, and it helped soften the blow of Trey Burke leaving. When he finally wore the Maize and Blue he did not disappoint.
While Walton’s first three seasons were great ones, with moments that stick out to me such as his battle with Aaron Harrison in the Elite 8 game against Kentucky, his and-one against Purdue last season on Caris LeVert’s Senior Day, his “accidental” pass to Kam Chatman for the upset over Indiana in the Big 10 Tournament, that led to a win against Tulsa in the NCAA Tournament, but a tough loss to Notre Dame, I listened to it on the radio all the way from the Philippines, and even from there I could feel the amount of heart that Derrick played against the Irish.
When Derrick missed that game-winning three against Oregon in the Sweet 16, yes I was upset that he missed the shot and that our unreal run had come to an end, but I was even sadder realizing that that was his last shot EVER as a Michigan Wolverine. Now that was heartbreaking.
But this season was just something special. Every single huge plays I saw Derrick make this year, I will never forget. When he hit those 6 three’s in that awful loss to Ohio State, I knew that he was gonna turn the ship around. And he did. His stellar performances in the Big 10 Tournament, and also those wins against Oklahoma State and Louisville, was incredible being apart of, even from my phone watching the Purdue OT win from Wales, or watching the Oklahoma State game all the way from France, or even listening to his game-winning lay-up from a plane home from Iceland. He made it one hell of an amazing experience being a Wolverine fan.
Thank you for playing your heart out for the Maize and Blue Derrick, and I hope to see you in the Pro’s.
Canada’s #1 Michigan Wolverine Fan