2011 Recruiting Profile: Max Bielfeldt

Dylan Burkhardt

Previously: Trey Burke, Carlton Brundidge

Max Bielfeldt – 6-foot-7
Max Biefeldt Basics

  • Height: 6-foot-7
  • Weight: 230lbs
  • High School: Notre Dame (Peoria, IL)


More previously on UMHoops

Trophy Case:
Peoria Player of the Year
Class 3A Illinois All-State
State Farm Holiday Classic MVP
Sr: 22.5 pts, 11.4 rebs & 4.6blks, 28-1 record
All-time PND leading scorer and rebounder

Max Bielfeldt was the third commitment in Michigan’s class of 2011 and the one that casual observers probably know the least about. Fans and reporters alike first learned that Michigan was pursuing Bielfeldt on February 7th, a month and a half later Bielfeldt had committed to the Wolverines. Compared to Carlton Brundidge, who committed to Michigan after his sophomore season, or Trey Burke, who has seemingly endless amounts of video footage on the internet, Bielfeldt is a relative unknown.

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The Story

Max Bielfeldt was one of the more promising big men in the state of Illinois early in his career. He was big and strong and produced at a high level, overpowering smaller players of his age. High majors showed interest but his lack of growth would prevent any major offers for much of his prep career.

Holding only mid-major offers while entering his senior year, Bielfeldt opted not to sign in November in hopes of landing a coveted high major offer. Strong performances in high profile games during his senior year convinced a pair of high majors that he was worth a chance. He tallied 39 points and 15 rebounds against MSU commitment, and All-American, Branden Dawson, 39 points and 13 rebounds against 2012 Purdue commitment Jay Simpson and 26 points and 13 rebounds against Illinois commitment Nnanna Egwu. Bielfeldt produced and midwestern schools took notice.

Bruce Weber was the first to offer Bielfeldt, whose family has donated extensive funds to the University, but John Beilein had managed to make an early, lasting impression. After Illinois offered, Bielfeldt insisted on making one more trip to Ann Arbor before eventually breaking away from his family ties to Illinois and committing to Michigan.


Bielfeldt is listed at 6-foot-8 on official rosters but those that we trust, and have seen him play, tell us that 6-foot-7 is probably his true height. He’s undersized height wise but is able to use his strength to still be productive. The question is how that translates to the next level. Described as a “Princeton post player”, Biefeldt isn’t an Evan Smotrycz type perimeter big but he’s an adequate passer with a solid 16-17 foot jump shot.

A UMHoops reader, Nathan I, contributed this report from a game that both Bruce Weber and John Beilein watched:

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. 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.

Bielfeldt lacks elite athleticism and quickness. 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 butanother player was able to rotate and usually ended up fouling him on his shot attempt.

Illinois Prep Bullseye shared this report via e-mail:

Max personifies the definition of a blue-collar player.  He brings his lunch bucket to work game-in and game-out and you know what you are getting from him every time he steps on the court.  He is an enforcer underneath because he gets after it on the glass and is also a consistent scorer in the paint area.  In addition, he also has the ability to face up and knock down shots from beyond the 3-point arc.  While Max may not wow anybody with his athleticism, but when one considers his tremendous work ethic and the skills that the brings to the table, we believe that he would fit into John Beilein’s offensive system quite well–a system that has been highly successful in utilizing face-up 4 men.

ESPN echoes the first two reports:

This strong high energy power forward never takes a possession off. Bielfeldt runs the floor on a consistent basis and simply out works opposing post for easy baskets. In the low post he scores with good touch and crafty moves. Bielfeldt is a below the rim finisher that can also face and knock down mid range and open three with needed time and space. He can drive from the high post as well. Bielfeldt is a good passer and active rebounder on both ends. He could be affective in both pick and pop or role situations. Bielfeldt won’t wow you with athletic ability but will with his consistent production.

Bielfeldt must work on attempting to improve his explosiveness he is an average athlete at best. And although his is strong he must continue to add strength in order to continue to hold his own in the low post.


Beilein Says:

“We love the talent, character, toughness and work habits that Max brings to our basketball program,” said Beilein. “His size and strength at approximately 6-8, 240 should help us a great deal around the basket. Max’s high basketball IQ, shooting ability and outstanding perimeter skill level allows him to have some versatility in his game. We plan on utilizing his talent in a variety of ways.”

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It’s a safe bet that Bielfeldt will bring a healthy dose of physical play to the Michigan front line. It’s a little less clear where exactly he’ll play in the Wolverine front court, especially next season.

In an ideal world, a player of Bielfeldt’s size would play the four position. There he’d provide a stronger and more physical alternative to Evan Smotrycz with a respectable amount of skill away from the basket. The worry with Max at the four is that he won’t be equipped to defend Big Ten power forwards or isn’t quite skilled enough offensively to play a position that’s more of a wing than a post slot.

There’s also the possibility to play the center position. While obviously undersized for this spot, you would like to see a strong rebounder and a nice pick and roll/pop player at this position. Bielfeldt can do both of those things very well, but defending taller five men could be a problem.

With Smotrycz, Novak and possibly Christian playing minutes at the four, along with Morgan, Horford and McLimans at the five, it’s tough to etch out a solid chunk of minutes for Bielfeldt next season. More likely he’ll be a change of pace option next year. Providing Michigan with a more physical option, getting his feet wet and finding his way before next season when Michigan needs another solid option at the four spot after Novak’s graduation.

  • AC1997

    Dylan – do you think he’ll redshirt considering the depth in the front-court right now?  I think he’s the type of “dirty-work” player that is always valuable to a team, but I’m not sure there are enough minutes to bother burning a red-shirt next season. 

    Also, I really like the MGoBLog recruiting feature where Brian compares recruits to former players (usually from Michigan’s past, but sometimes other schools).  I think that would be a valuable addition to your recruiting summaries.  In this case, he screams “Graham Brown” to me.  Brown was an unhearlded guy who did all the dirty work and was only about 6’8″ without a lot of offensive value.  But he was able to play the 5-spot his entire career, rebound, set screens, get some easy baskets, and turn into a valuable starter.  That’s the career Max should model himself after in my opinion and I see him playing mostly the center position except in certain match-ups.

    • Anonymous

      I think of Jordan Morgan as a Graham Brown-type.  If we have 2 of those guys next year, that can only help.

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    No way he redshirts. Basketball sees redshirts far less often than football. Plus, no disrespect to Bielfeldt, but a redshirt year for Bielfeldt means one less scholly five years down the road for someone else. It’s unlikely they let him take five years since he’s not a big project with a huge upside; rather, he’s a known quantity that will probably end up being a role player.

    • BlueRev

      Tho you’re right about the known quantity part, he’s an excellent RS candidate since we have depth ahead of him and he’d get a chance to have a year to get the system down which can be huge in JB’s system. I highly doubt he sees any PT ahead of our 3 returning centers or 3 PFs, but down the road is when he will be counted on to play that important role.

    • Kenny

      The 5th year is not guaranteed, players are invited back only if they will contribute, as common practise in both football and baseball.

      • Kenny

        I meant basketball.

  • ScottGoBlue

    I wouldn’t dismiss the redshirt idea.  It is hard to see how he’ll get minutes.  Front court minutes were eaten up last season as follows …
    5: Morgan, Horford, Smotrycz, McLimans
    4: Smotrycz, Novak, McLimans, Christian

    And it’s hard to imagine where a frosh Bielfeldt would break in to provide a significant contribution of minutes.  Why not redshirt?

    • YpsiTuckyBoy

      Well, to put it a little more bluntly, you’re probably not going to redshirt a guy who doesn’t appear to have a high ceiling. Theoretically, five years down the line the program will be more established and be able to bring in higher level players. Again, I don’t mean disrespect to Bielfeldt, but if the program is consistently at the top of the B1G you’ll be able to bring in more highly regarded players than him.

      • Bbuck5

        DONT FORGET ,anyone of the top 3 players can go down at any time so it would be nice to have the back up.let say JH gose down and needs to red shert ,then you would have 2 on the bench and no back up.dont get me wrong i dont want antyone to get hert but it happens .i think he will do well with his part .GO BLUE!!!!!

      • Toblav

        You assume a lot.

      • JBlair52

        Didn’t we redshirt McLimans?

    • Anonymous

      Unless he makes a jump in production, I see what Max brings to the table as more valuable than what McLimans brought.  I think Max can and will be the 4th “big” in the rotation.

      • BlueRev

        I hope you are right. Morgan and Horford almost all pt at the 5, Smotz at the 4 and hoping MaxB can at least split the back-up 4 minutes with Novak–although I won’t b surprised if RS an option especially is Christian or McL improved dramatically. Still, I’d love MaxB to show enough perimeter play for JB to deserve 5-10mpg at the 4–of course those minutes would be taken from the 2spot ultimately since Novak would play more there to get his pt.

        • Anonymous

          The best thing might be if Blake, Colton or both did have a leap in what they can bring to the court so we could redshirt Max.  I’m just gauging from the videos I’ve seen of Max and the numbers he put up vs. how Blake looked on the court last year. Blake also didn’t produce much in terms of numbers during his year in prep school.  

          Who knows, though?  Maybe Blake’s busting his butt as some big man camp as I write this?  

          Also, at 6’7″ and with some agility, I could see CC backing up the 3 a bit next year as well, provided he adds a little bit in offense.  Maybe a flashback to Mike Griffin?

          Just thinking about it, (even without Darius) this is going to be the deepest we’ve seen a Michigan team in quite some time!

  • Brian_W_97

    2013 guard Zavier Turner had a bout of heat exhaustion over the weekend.  He should be okay.  He’ll be participating in the elite camp on June 11.


    2013 small foward Kuran Iverson is hearing from Michigan…http://www.nbebasketball.com/w3/2011-0529/2011-bob-gibbons-tournament-of-champions-day-two/

  • Tyreke

    could be a much worse version of hansbrogh?

  • Kaminskit

    I think that
    a lot of people may be underrating him. As Dylan said, he was a top prospect in
    his underclassmen years but didn’t receive many major offers because of his
    size. This talent didn’t disappear as the years went on, he just didn’t physically
    develop as much as he was projected to. It makes sense, but it isn’t like he is
    PAINFULLY undersized, he’s 6’7”/6’8” – he isn’t going to be a liability (I
    don’t think match-ups with forwards one or two inches taller than him is going
    to break his career). I think he could realistically push McLimans for minutes
    this year, call me crazy, just most likely not Horford. Also I’ll trade losing
    a bit of athleticism for a high basketball IQ and a great work ethic.


    I am against
    the notion of redshirting him – one, because I feel like with his apparent work
    ethic and size (he obviously isn’t lanky unlike some of our other bigs) and
    two, because I’m in agreement with some on here that more elite-level talent is
    on the way and we need scholarships open.


    I may just
    be ignorantly optimistic, but Beilein is usually pretty good at finding and
    developing that mid level talent; making the 2*/3* guys legitimate rotation