Michigan head coach John Beilein was on hand to watch 2013 Michigan commitment Derrick Walton and Harper Woods Chandler Park knock off Ann Arbor Skyline on Friday evening by a final score of 51-49. Chandler Park looked very strong in the first half and held a double digit lead for large stretches of the game. Walton started the game off with an “and one” and scored in a variety of ways, both from behind the arc and from driving into the lane. Chandler Park ended the first frame with a commanding 28-14 lead. The second half was a different story. After cutting the lead to 10 following the third quarter, Skyline climbed all the way back within two and had a chance to win the game on a last second heave. The ball clanged harmlessly off the rim and Chandler Park escaped with the two point win. Walton played the entire game and finished with a team high 19 points, ten rebounds and five assists.
Strengths: There’s no doubt that Walton was the best player on the floor in this game. His quickness stood out and he thrives in transition. He can get up and down the court in a flash and has no problem finishing on the the fast break. He got to the rim with ease and when there was nothing there, he found his teammates for open jumpers. Walton was comfortable shooting the perimeter jump-shot but was a bit streaky. He converted a rare 4-point play, nailing the three ball and falling to the ground after he was knocked down by the defender. As you like to see from a point guard, Walton not only got to the free throw line often, he converted his freebies. Overall he controlled the game in the half court and was a difference maker in transition.
Weakness: Much like his future school has struggled with this season, Walton and his Chandler Park teammates had a hard time putting Skyline away. Walton looked a bit gassed down the stretch and wasn’t quite as aggressive as he could’ve been with a big lead after the first half. Skyline changed defenses pretty often to try to get Walton out of sync and that strategy was effective, especially in the second half. Although he had 19 points, Walton made just four field goals and most of his points came from the charity stripe.
Overall: Walton will be the focal point of every opposing team’s defense this year. He handled it pretty well on Friday night and found a way to get on the board even without putting up huge numbers from the field. He’s great around the rim and proved he can find an open teammate if there’s nothing open for him. He’s also a great free throw shooter, which is something you can bet Michigan has taken note of. With still nearly two full seasons of high school basketball ahead of him, Walton is on the right trajectory as he prepares to play in Ann Arbor in 2013. The biggest key to his development will be continuing to become more consistent with his perimeter shot.
Romulus 72, Detroit Community 68: EC Matthews vs. Byron Zeigler
Friday nightcap featured two of the best teams in the state, Romulus and Detroit Community, as well as a pair of top 2013 prospects, Byron Zeigler and EC Matthews. EC Matthews has been up and down throughout his career, showing flashes at times and disappearing at others, while Zeigler already claims offers from Michigan State, Indiana and Iowa after a big summer with the Michigan Hurricanes. Michigan has been keeping an eye on both prospects as potential options in the class of 2013. Matthews and Romulus had the slight edge in this one, sneaking away with a 72-68 victory in a back-and-forth thriller. Matthews, a 6-foot-4 wing, dominated the game and led all scorers with 21 points. Zeigler, a 6-foot-6 forward, was hounded by foul trouble early and didn’t play his best game, finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds in limited minutes.
Scouting: Byron Zeigler
Zeigler clearly is loaded with talent – notably prototypical size and athleticism – and potential but, because of three first-half fouls, he was limited on Friday night. He looked tentative in the second half as he clearly tried to avoid picking up his fourth foul. Still, he managed to grab ten boards and was a force inside. He definitely looked more comfortable in the lane rather than on the perimeter and scored all seven of his points in the paint. It’s tough to judge him off of this game when he was limited by foul trouble but he has clear potential as a high major combo-forward with his size (6-foot-7) and athleticism – especially if he continues to hone his perimeter abilities.
Scouting: EC Matthews
EC Matthews hasn’t received quite as much hype as other in-state 2013 prospects like Zeigler or Walton, but he proved on Friday night that when he’s on his game he can compete. In a tight game against a very quality opponent, Matthews took over. He scored when his team needed to but didn’t force it if it wasn’t there. He scored off the dribble, in the lane and even with the jump shot from time to time. He showed poise down the stretch, never panicking when the lead swayed in favor of Community late in the game. When the ball is in Matthews’s hand there’s one thing on his mind: attack. He’s extremely successful when attacking the basket to create but he will need to improve on his jump-shot going forward. Consistency has plagued Matthews but his performance on Friday night was a large step in the right direction.