As a rising junior in the 2013 summer, Matt Heldt bore the look of a guy who'd get a mixture of mid- and high-major interest. He clearly possessed some talent but also was saddled with significant question marks, the type that caused many high-majors to wait before offering.
As of this past May, Marquette, Northern Illinois, Xavier and Wisconsin-Green Bay comprised his offer list. The Golden Eagles obviously wanted to make a quick impact in their home state to kick off the Steve Wojciechowski era, and they were able to land Heldt's commitment prior to the opening of the July evaluation period.
Heldt went on to open eyes during the summer, as well as generate regret from other high-majors who'd decided to move slowly rather than offer a scholarship. As a result of his recent play, Heldt now ranks No. 56 in the senior class.
Heldt is a big man's big man. He doesn't do anything particularly flashy, he just grinds away in the post and delivers consistent production. He's most impressive using a jump hook that he launches smoothly with either hand. Many big men take years to develop a lefty hook, but Heldt already has that in the toolbox.
Meanwhile, he also carries a solid frame. He doesn't appear to have begun serious weight-training yet and can get pushed around from time to time, but that will change in college. Heldt carries sturdy shoulders and should evolve into a legitimately powerful big man.
|Heldt plays with admirable poise and focus|
He also wields a nice looking face-up jump shot. Don't expect him to create much on the perimeter or knock down fancy stepbacks, but as a trailer or pressure valve at the top of the key, he's definitely capable of stretching the defense.
Heldt also rebounds solidly thanks to good hands and should give Marquette good production in that regard as he gains muscle.
By far, athleticism concerns dominate this section. Heldt runs the floor okay but teeters side to side a bit while he does it (likely meaning his weight is on the outside of his feet), and he suffers from subpar reflexes. That means he can be slow to grab loose balls, get a shot onto the glass or make quick defensive adjustments.
Reflexes are difficult to improve, so Heldt likely will need to maximize his skill level —he's off to a good start — to compensate in college.
Chances are, Heldt will need at least one year and maybe two before he's physically ready to go. Less athletic players tend to need greater cushion to develop adaptive tools, and as such I hold modest expectations for him early at MU.
Still, there's a template for players fitting that description to suddenly blossom as upperclassmen. Heldt already has proved he can make substantial, striking improvement from one year to the next, and no one should bet against him continuing to do the same in college.
Down the road he could become a primary weapon for the Eagles, with room to grow into a professional player as well. That's all multiple years in the future, but Heldt has established a clear, bright upside on the national stage.