Notes from the Bleachers: Max Bielfeldt, Javontae Hawkins & Denzel Watts

Dylan Burkhardt

We do our fair share of first hand scouting here but we also receive e-mails from readers that make it out to more high school games than Joe and I could on our own. We’ve been trying to figure out what to do with some of this content and decided to experiment with a semi-regular user contributed scouting reports post. These aren’t our first hand impressions but they are still useful additions from readers that have made it out to watch these kids in action.

To start, here are some reports from the field on Max Bielfedt’s performance on Friday night as well as notes from the Flint Powers vs. Carman Ainsworth game featuring Javontae Hawkins and Denzel Watts. All are after the jump to conserve front page space.

Peoria High-Notre Dame Basketball
Photo Credit: PJ Star

Max Bielfeldt vs. Peoria Richwoods – Report from Nathan I.
26 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. 9 of 16 shooting, 8 of 12 FT

As the above article mentions both John Beilein and Bruce Weber were in attendance for the game last night. Richwoods did not have anyone that could match up man-to-man with Bielfeldt, as he normally had three inches and twenty pounds on the person who was guarding him, so he saw immediate double teams throughout the game. Max was bothered by the double teams in the first half with a couple of turnovers but showed better awareness of them as the game went along.

Several times in the game Bielfeldt would receive the ball around the high post and then face up on his man to take him off the dribble. He showed a shot fake that worked several times which allowed him to get by his man and drive towards the basket. It appears that he can handle the ball relatively well for a guy his size that plays in the post but he does not have quite the handle of Nance Jr. Bielfeldt showed good touch around the basket and a consistent motion on his free throws. His misses from the line were shots that were halfway down. He only took one jump shot from outside five feet and made it. He clearly realized he strength is in the post and didn’t try to float outside and put up outside shots to impress the coaches.

What everyone already believes is true, Bielfeldt lacks the athleticism and quickness of better prospects. He threw down a one-handed slam from completely standing still but his lack of quickness hurt him in other areas. There were multiple times where he beat his guy with the shot fake and should have exploded to the basket for a dunk but was too slow and another player was able to rotate and usually ended up fouling him on his shot attempt.

Bielfeldt didn’t do a great job getting post position against the zone and seemed content to catch the ball around 8 to 10 feet away from the hoop.  Like many young big men, it felt like Bielfledt could have played with a bit higher motor. He probably could have racked up even more points and rebounds than he did.

Denzel Watts (Carman-Ainsworth) – Report from Sam S.
19 points (6-18 FG, 2-8 3pt., 5-6 FT)

First off, Watts was extremely impressive for a sophomore. He definitely looks older, as his upper body has filled out nicely. He’s not huge but he is not so skinny like so many other prospects. He has a pretty smooth jump shot with good rotation and a little bit of leg-kick that will need to be worked on, but nothing major.

Strengths: Perhaps the best part of Watts’s game is his passing. He always made the right pass, although he tends to jump to pass a little too often. Nevertheless, he had four assists and two or three other passes that just weren’t converted. Watts’s body control is also admirable. He made a couple very nice pull-ups completely under control, something many college players struggle with. He also can use the glass when needed, banking in a couple nice mid-range shots, including one very nice turnaround jumper. Watts is fairly fast, but doesn’t explode out of control. His quickness doesn’t jump out, but he always seemed to get past his defender when he wanted to. Unlike many high-schoolers, Watts also knew when to shoot and when to pass. 18 shots seems like a lot, but he never seemed to just try to take over by himself, for better or worse. Two of his missed threes were on long buzzer attempts as well. On defense, Watts was also fairly adept at getting his hands into passing lanes, tipping a couple balls leading to turnovers and fast breaks.

Weaknesses: While Watts finished with a pretty nice stat line, he was quite streaky. 14 of his 19 points came in the second quarter, which quickly turned into the Denzel Watts show as Carman-Ainsworth pulled back into the game to trail by only three at the half. In the second quarter, Watts was five of seven from the field, including two for four from three-point land, and collected three assists, one rebound, one steal, and one turnover. In the first quarter, I was wondering if I was watching the wrong player, because Watts was nearly invisible as Powers ran out to a 10-4 lead. Watts combined for five points on one of nine field goal shooting the in second half. While he was integral in the comeback, he never put the team on his back and really only had one fantastic quarter. Defensively, Watts appeared to be a little uninterested at times playing at the top of the 1-1-3 and 1-2-2 zones that CA threw out. His defender often blew by him, making Watts appear fairly slow laterally. He also jumps off his feet far too often on defense, either leading to a foul or a blow-by.

Overall: Watts is a tremendous prospect at this point. He’s talented and can fill up the statsheet. The 2013 class features some great point guards including Monte Morris, Derrick Walton, Cha Cha Tucker but Watts definitely looks like he should be in the mix.

Javontae HawkinsReport from Sam S.
22 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3pt., 1-1 FT), 12 rebounds (8 offensive), one assist, one block.

He shot the ball pretty well and displayed some great range on his three and some tremendous leaping ability, especially on the offensive glass. Here is a breakdown of strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths:  Hawkins is an athletic wing that either shoots from deep or finishes inside. He has a nice three point shot, but it is a little bit of a slow release. The rotation is nice and he can create a shot for himself, but rarely shot in a catch-and-shoot situation. His length and athleticism allowed him to be a great rebounder, and he always seemed to get his hands on Powers’ misses. He brought the crowd to its feet one time with a huge put-back throwdown and missed two big one-handed dunks. He made two NBA-range three-pointers and converted on an array of put-backs around the hoop. He also showed a bit of driving ability, one time going baseline and converting a reverse layup, but for the most part he either received passes, took a couple dribbles and shot or rebounded misses and put them back up for his points. He was excellent on defense, always staying with his man and recording one nice block.

Weaknesses: The thing that disappointed me most with Hawkins was that he didn’t really drive the ball at all, which Michigan could use a little more of. While he was great on the offensive boards, he also missed a couple of close shots around the hoop, one time getting the rebound, bricking the put-back off the front of the rim, got his own rebound again, and then proceeded to miss off the front of the rim again. He also missed two dunks that could have been easily dropped in with his athleticism.

Overall: Overall, Hawkins was very impressive, easily leading his team in scoring. He is a super athlete and an above-average shooter and can impact the game defensively with his length. As he develops, I expect him to gain a little bit of a dribble-drive game to go along with his shooting and athleticism. I would not be disappointed at all if he came to Michigan. It’s hard to say who I would prefer out of Hawkins and Dorsey-Walker, but based off of just one game apiece I would give the slight edge to Hawkins.

  • Beast1530

    Give me Hawkins and I call it a day in recruiting ’12 class. Michigan really needs an athletic wing player more than big guy.

    • MHoops1

      That depends on whether Robinson grows. If he does, I agree–he’d be a big, and Hawkins an athletic wing. If he doesn’t, as someone who has seen them both live, Robinson is materially better, and I’d rather have either a big or a shooter in that instance.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        MHoops… Even then, you are dealing with a shortage of athletic wings on the roster though, right?

        • MHoops1

          I’m not so sure. You’d have Hardaway and Robinson, and you’d also have Brundidge, while not incredibly athletic, is a wing slasher. You’d have to supplement with a ’13 athletic wing to prepare for Hardaway’s departure, but for ’12, with limited scholarships, there might be other priorities. All this depends, of course, on whether we sign another ’11 (and, if so, what type of player he is), if there’s any attrition and, most importantly, whether Robinson grows.. Don’t get me wrong–I liked Hawkins a lot when I saw him–just not as much as GRob III.

          Personally, I hope Robinson grows about two inches–that solves the dilemma in a hurry.

      • Beast1530

        Robinson is likely to be a 4 in the next level and it seems like he’ll continue to grow up to 6’8″-6’9″. Still needs an athletic wing regardless.

  • grandchamp

    I still want Stauskas.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I’ll have this in the recruiting roundup but Stauskas picked up a Kansas offer this weekend.

      • oh, crap.

        • Ben

          that’s going to hurt our chances

    • Beast1530

      I don’t think he’s coming here. Michigan offered him in hopes of him committing on the spot but he didn’t budge.

  • mhoops

    great updates.

  • Slacks

    I was also at the Flint CA-Flint Powers game. I would add that I only saw Hawkins dribble once with his left hand. It was an awkward motion where he dribbled only once and dribbled too high. That leads me to think he needs to work a lot on his left hand.

  • FLWolve

    Just going by the scouting reports but to me, Nance is the clear cut favorite if the last 2011 ship is between him and Bielfeldt. Bielfeldt sounds like he’d be a 5 for us and we already have that position stocked with undersized kids in Morgan and Horford. It doesn’t sound like Bielfeldt could beat out either of those two. Nance is that perimeter skilled 4 that we have heard so much in JB’s system and that the roster has lacked for years. Smote is a start and could eventually be a good player but I don’t think he’s locked down the position for the next couple of years. There is an opportunity for a more athletic kid like Nance to come in and earn some playing time there.

    I haven’t seen enough of Nance though to know if he’s even worth a scholarship though. With the way that JB has been recruiting lately, he might be better off banking the ship for the following class. I would hate to see us take a flyer on another kid in the late signing period.

  • Paul

    Bielfeldt’s update bothers me – the lack of athleticism

    • Beast1530

      I think that he’s recruited as a preferred walk-on rather than a schollie offer.

  • Section13Row15

    Nance seems to have a lot more upside, but it’s cool that the staff is scouring the Midwest and Canada to find the right kids.

  • billiam

    Canada…see the 7’4 kid…DAYUM….not back to mine thoughts

    Let’s assume GRIII grows to 6’7, which I think is reasonable. Also, let’s assume his athleticism stays around where it is now, and he refines his shooting a little more. Do we see him playing the 3 or the 4? That’s the important part to think about because the two holes are the 3 and 4. Which one do you guys see him filling?

    For me, I hope he’s playing at the 3, but either way he’s taking time from THJ or Smot (who, regardless of his play this year, is the ideal forward for this system.)

  • Another name to add with good UM blood lines is Maceo Baston Jr. He was at the game saturday with his dad. He looks just like Maceo Senior, but is only about 6’2 right now. He is a freshman at Troy and is the 6th man on varstiy. He doesnt have great numbers but is highly skilled and is a tireless worker. He is going to be a high D-1 level prospect before his career is over.

  • jBdub

    I got the impression from listening to Bacari Alexander on WTKA yesterday morning, that the staff likely will use the last ’11 scholly on either Bielfeldt or Nance, Jr. I could be reading too much into it, but Sam asked him a two part question about whether they’re planning to use the scholarship, or whether it’s better to bank it for ’12, and he said something along the lines of, ‘we have to decide if we need a banger inside, or a more athletic, and longer guy on the wing,’ and then he didn’t answer part two about the possibility of banking it. In a previous two-part question, he made a point of answering both parts. So take it what it’s worth.