After starring with the Division II Lewis Flyers in Romeoville, Illinois the last two seasons, Max Strus decided to take his game up a whole level by transferring to Division I.
The Hickory Hills native was named a Division II All-American by the NABC following his sophomore season at Lewis. Max led the Flyers in three statistical categories - points (20.2 points per game), rebounds (8.4 rebounds per game), and assists (3.5 assists per game).
Strus has a reputation as a shooter and shot 45.4 percent overall and 36 percent from beyond the arc.
On November 24, 2015, Strus unloaded a 52 point performance against Northwood which shattered the all-time scoring record at Lewis. His barrage included 12 shots made from beyond the three point arc. It was the largest number of points scored and largest number of 3-pointers made by any player at any NCAA level for the entire 2015-16 season. The most amazing part of his performance was that Strus only took 18 shots in the game. He shot 14 for 18 overall and was 12 of 14 on 3-pointers and 12 for 12 at the free throw line. Strus also had 12 rebounds in the contest.
Once Strus decided to transfer in the Spring, he immediately attracted interest from a number of Division I programs. Max was interested in staying close to home, so he only visited schools in the Midwest - Butler, Xavier, and DePaul.
DePaul was Strus’ third and final visit. It was shortly after that visit that he made his decision.
“I just felt like it was the right fit for me and my family,” Max said of DePaul. “Other schools were recruiting me, but it came down to just feeling right with the players and the coaches. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff and I feel like we can make DePaul big again in the next couple years.”
Max’s mother Debbie Brinkman-Strus starred at DePaul in both basketball and volleyball from 1977 to 1981. Despite that familiarity, Max said that wasn’t much of a factor in his decision.
“Obviously I know a lot of people and felt comfortable going to DePaul,” said Max.
Once Max signed with the Blue Demons in April, DePaul coach Dave Leitao felt like he had something special for the future.
“In his time at Lewis, Max quickly established himself as one of the top Division II players in the country,” Leitao said following the signing. “He’s got great size and athleticism for a wing and can score the ball in a variety of ways. Studying him on film, we feel like he has a chance to become one of the elite shooters in the Big East Conference. He’s been well-coached and has grown up around the game so he possesses a very high basketball IQ and great work habits.”
In May, Strus was chosen to go on an international tour with a number of other Division II All-stars. Max and his teammates toured Brazil with stops in Sau Paulo and Rio De Janeiro with games against Brazilian club teams.
In June, Strus arrived on DePaul’s campus and got to know his new teammates.
“I love my teammates, they’ve been really accepting of me,” Max said. “I fit in well. The guys that I will be playing with, I really like. They’re bringing in some more guys that I will like to play with. My teammates have been great. I look forward to playing with them.”
Strus is especially looking forward to teaming up with current leading scorer Eli Cain next season.
“I like playing with Eli, I feel like we can be a good duo,” said Max.
For those that wonder how Strus’ skills will translate to Division I ball, consider that Strus has already faced Division I teams.
In an exhibition game against the Loyola Ramblers in 2015, Max scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
This season Strus finds himself on the bench learning as he sits out his NCAA mandated transfer year.
“He's shown this summer that he's going to have a really major impact on this program,” said Leitao. “I expect that this will be a very productive year for Max off the court, because he has a chance to individually get a whole lot better.”
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m going to do,” said Max. “I got a whole year to sit out and watch the team and evaluate everything. It’s too early to tell what I’m going to bring. I’m going to try to do whatever I can, the best I can.”
The season will give Strus the opportunity to work on developing as a player.
“The next year will be good for me to get in the weight room and get stronger, and working on my ballhandling,” Strus said. “Really everything, just get better as a whole player. I still have a lot of room to improve and get better in every way. This year will be good for me I think in making my game better and trying to do whatever I can to help the team win the next couple years.”