A player and recruit that has not received a ton of coverage since his initial commitment has been Max Bielfeldt out of Peoria, Illinois. He was rated as a 3* prospect according to Rivals and Scout and will be a redshirt freshman this season. Bielfeldt may not have as much experience as many other players on the roster, but he has some great talent and a year of experience on the roster. Along with this, he had a very successful high school career, averaging 20 points and 11.2 rebounds during his career.
Looking to this season, expectations will likely be pretty low for Bielfeldt, but he's somebody that could easily get some serious playing time, especially later in the season when things like injuries and physical wear will start to show, especially for some of the big men. There's no way I would rate Bielfeldt as the best big man on Michigan's roster, but there's no way one can't be excited by his potential for both this season and the future.
Things To Look For In 2012-2013:
1. Get And Stay Healthy
This is something that can probably go without saying, but if Bielfeldt hopes to make some serious contributions this season, he needs to be healthy enough both to practice and get on the court. When he arrived at Michigan last season, he had some knee issues that really took the redshirt choice out of his and Beilein's hands. There was a time when they debated putting him out there, but his early season injury truly limited his ability to contribute. Making sure this doesn't repeat itself isn't really something that Bielfeldt will be able to control, but this has to be the most essential element in changing the amount of contributions he will make this year in comparison to last year.
2. Work On Alternate Skills
As I'll discuss in point #3, Bielfeldt has a couple skills that truly set him apart from other players. However, improving on some of the others could go a long way towards getting him some playing time. For instance, he was a pretty good shooter in high school and if he can replicate and improve on his numbers, he could be a very dangerous player at the 4 spot. Everyone remembers Smotrycz last season and his early season success that was largely due to his impressive shooting. Bielfeldt has the ability to become this and so much more because he has so many more weapons than Smotrycz has or had last season. For instance, Bielfeldt could easily be better on defense and could be a much better rebounder than Smotrycz, which is something that's important to a team like Michigan that struggles rebounding the basketball (though part of it is due to scheme). If Bielfeldt hopes to get some playing time over guys like McGary, he's going to have to improve his all-around game and especially on the offensive side of the ball in things like his shooting and ability to attack the basket. He did both pretty well in high school, but those were definitely not his top skills.
3. Do What He Does Best
There are a couple things that Bielfeldt does extremely well. First, he is fantastic at rebounding and controlling the basketball. If there's one person that won't turn over the ball on the court, it's Bielfeldt. Another thing he does very well is pass the ball. If he is able to harness and improve on these skills, I think he has a great shot at playing time. Do I think he will be a starter anytime soon? Probably not unless he really improves on the offensive side, but he can definitely be a serviceable backup in the near future with these types of weapons. When you add in the fact that he plays pretty good defense, has great blocking skills, and has good size, he's a player that I can see doing a lot in the future. He may not be an exciting player in the way he attacks the game, but his skills are something that can go a long way towards propelling a team to victory and season success. I don't think Bielfeldt is quite ready for some big time contributions just yet, especially with his injury challenges last season, but he has a lot of experience on the scout team and in the offseason and I think fans will be seeing a good share of him this season.