Currently a member of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Derrick Walton Jr. watches campers Aug. 7 at the first Derrick Walton Basketball Camp. The graduate of Harper Woods Chandler Park and the University of Michigan hosted the camp Aug. 6-8 at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

Currently a member of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Derrick Walton Jr. watches campers Aug. 7 at the first Derrick Walton Basketball Camp. The graduate of Harper Woods Chandler Park and the University of Michigan hosted the camp Aug. 6-8 at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Former Chandler Park, U of M hoops standout gives back

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published August 10, 2018

 Derrick Walton Jr., left, poses with his father, Derrick Walton Sr., during the basketball camp. Walton Sr. serves as the varsity boys basketball coach at Lake Shore.

Derrick Walton Jr., left, poses with his father, Derrick Walton Sr., during the basketball camp. Walton Sr. serves as the varsity boys basketball coach at Lake Shore.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Derrick Walton Jr.’s first experience as an NBA player came in a Nov. 6, 2017, game against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Walton, who starred at Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy before having a standout career at the University of Michigan, played the last minute and eight seconds of a loss in his first appearance as a member of the Miami Heat. He didn’t scratch the score sheet, but in that little bit of run he got, Walton Jr. realized a dream.

“Playing in the NBA was always a goal of mine. I write all my goals down to hold myself more accountable in terms of making sure I keep working at them,” Walton Jr. said. “I was nervous when I got onto the court; then I realized I could play in the league.”

Making sure others know their goals are attainable has always been big to Walton Jr. and his father, Derrick Walton Sr., who coached his son while at Chandler Park. That prompted them to establish the Derrick Walton Basketball Camp, which took place Aug. 6-8 at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore. Walton Sr. serves as head boys basketball coach at Lake Shore.

“I’ve always been big on showing kids they can accomplish anything, and Derrick Jr. learned that from me,” Walton Sr. said. “You want kids to know they have somebody they can look up to, somebody they can talk to. I’m glad we were able to do this for them.”

About 75 youths in grades three through eight took part in the camp. Walton Jr. said he hopes to make the camp an annual event.

The camp was a family affair.

Jermaine Jackson Sr., who starred at the University of Detroit Mercy before embarking on a 14-year professional career, served as director. Jermaine Jackson Jr., a 2017 graduate of Macomb Dakota who now plays at UDM, was one of several players who worked with the young players.

Jackson Sr., who coached at Mount Clemens High for two seasons, said participating in the camp was a no-brainer.

“I’ve known (Walton Jr.) since he was 5-6 years old,” Jackson Sr. said. “He learned under me, and I learned under his dad. We’ve always done things like this — things to help our community. I don’t really call it giving back, because he’s always been here. (Walton Jr.) is the same person all the time — whether he’s in high school, at Michigan or playing with the Miami Heat. He’s somebody all of these kids can look up to.”

Lake Shore varsity girls basketball coach Josh Banks said it was great to have the camp at the home of the Shorians.

“It kind of continues a trend,” Banks said. “When I was younger, I had guys like (Detroit Murray Wright and U of M standout Robert Traylor) at my camps. You get a chance, as a kid, to see those guys, who come from where you come from, accomplish their goals.”

Walton Jr. said he jumped at the chance to host the camp and believes each participant gained something from it.

“I’m just thankful and blessed that I’m able to do something like this,” Walton Jr. said.

Undrafted out of college, Walton Jr. appeared in 16 games for the Heat. He signed a two-way deal with the team in July 2017.

NBA teams may have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team. Two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players in their fourth NBA season or earlier are able to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

Walton scored his first points (a pair of free throws) Nov. 19 last year against the Indiana Pacers. He made his first field goal in a Dec. 18 game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Detroit product said he played it cool after the bucket in the Hawks game, but understands what it means if he never scores another bucket in the league.

“There’s only so many people who even get a chance to play in the NBA, let alone score,” Walton Jr. said. “That was a big moment, but I’ve got more goals I want to reach.”