Max Bielfeldt, a power forward from Peoria Notre Dame High School, is a winner! He is the leader of an undefeated high school team that is one of the favorites to win a state championship. He has had an offer to be a preferred walk-on with with Illinois since November. The forward has now received a full ride scholarship offer from Bruce Weber.
Bielfeldt describes the scene when he received the exciting news.
"I was at dinner with my family. I saw coach Weber was calling so I took the call. We talked for a little bit. He told me he was offering me a scholarship. He said he likes the way I play and my ability to go inside and that I could help the team."
The big man was surprised when he heard what coach Weber had to say.
"When he first said it, I thought I misheard him because I really wasn't expecting it. I was like ‘Wow, he did really offer me?' I wasn't really expecting it, but it was really cool."
This is his first high major offer,and that has significance with Bielfeldt.
"It means a lot. It is my first high major offer. It is really big. Also the fact that it is Big 10, and I have been following the Big 10 since I was a kid. It was really exciting to me."
When Bielfeldt told his family, their reaction was enthusiastic.
"They were really excited for me. They were texting my grandparents and my sister. They were really happy for me."
He has had the preferred walk-on offer for months, but this offer means much more in his mind.
"There are a lot of things that go with it. The status on the team, and you get a little more respect from the guys. It seems like you are wanted a little bit more. You feel more part of the team."
Besides Illinois, he currently holds offers from UIC, Valparaiso, Ball State, Western Michigan, and Wright State. Other interest is coming from Michigan, Tulane, and Loyola. Where does his Illinois offer rank in comparison to the others?
"It is my first high major so it is definitely up there, but I am going to go and talk more about everything when I go down to their game and just see how everything is. I am not sure right yet."
The power forward visited in January for the Illini's game against Ohio State. He enjoyed the visit.
"It went pretty well. It was a tough loss, but I really enjoyed seeing them play a pretty good team. They looked good but struggled at the end. Overall it was a good visit."
What does he feel he would be able to bring to the Illini team in the future?
"I think I could bring strong post play and do some dirty work as well as score on the block."
This Illinois class is one of the most celebrated classes in years. Bielfeldt believes he could fit in well with his potential classmates.
"I think I would fit in pretty good. All of the guys are really talented, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I think I could bring something that none of them bring."
Bielfeldt is a tough post player who positions his body well. He creates space and can finish through contact. He has a good back-to-the-basket game, but he can also step out and hit a jump shot that extends out to the three point arc. This would be a valuable asset in the Illinois motion offense. He talked about this.
"I switch it up between rolling and popping. I try to keep the defense guessing. I think I have a pretty good ability to pick and pop and knock down the three."
On the defensive end, he rebounds at a high level for his team by out working his opponent and being aggressive on the boards. He began his senior campaign with multiple dominant performances at the State Farm Tournament of Champions and has continued leading his team to an undefeated record of 23-0 while averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
"Mad Max" will be visiting Wednesday night for the Illini's game against Michigan. Will he commit? Stay tuned!