Indiana picked up some much-needed interior depth when Michigan grad transfer Max Bielfeldt committed to the Hoosiers on Tuesday. Not only does Bielfeldt bring the size the Hoosiers so severely lacked last season, he also has considerable Big Ten experience, a unique quality on a young Indiana team.
The Hoosiers needed Bielfeldt, and in the end, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to play for a preseason top 15 team.
"For me it was a mix of the athletics and academics," Bielfeldt told AllHoosiers.com. "I think I'll fit in well with the guys, and playing for coach [Tom] Crean with his ability to develop players will be interesting. It feels great. It's been a long intense process and to have a decision that I feel good about is relieving."
Bielfeldt, who averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season, called Crean on Tuesday to inform him of his decision, and the Indiana coach couldn't contain his excitement.
"He was ecstatic," Bielfeldt said. "He said he was really excited to work with me and handed the phone off to the other coaches to tell me their own personal congratulations and excitement."
Bielfeldt's announcement came a couple weeks later than originally planned. After the Chicago Bulls fired coach Tom Thibodeau last week, Bielfeldt opted to wait and see what happened with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg was introduced as the new Bulls coach on Tuesday, and Bielfeldt announced his decision on Twitter hours later.
Many assumed Bielfeldt favored Iowa State before Hoiberg left because of the delayed decision, but he says that wasn't that case.
"No, I think for me I wanted to see what the product offered at each school was so that I could make a decision with less variables," Bielfeldt said. "I decided to wait a little longer just to see what the outcome was so I could be more confident in my decision, but at the end of the day I believe that I made the right one."
Bielfeldt said he will arrive in Bloomington at the beginning of next week to begin offseason work with his new teammates. He'll be eligible to play immediately after the NCAA granted his appeal to transfer within the Big Ten. Bielfeldt now has the rare opportunity to play at two different schools in the same conference.
"I think it puts me ahead of others to already understand the league," he said. "That's especially useful when I'm joining a new team and learning a new system."