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2015-16 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #12 Matt Heldt

We wrap up the five freshman with the gentleman from Neenah.

The 2015-16 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We'll be going through the players one by one, starting with the freshmen, moving on to the lone available transfer, and then wrapping up with the four returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season.

Last year, we made a slight adjustment as to how we look at the players' upcoming season, and it seemed to work better, so we'll stick with the same three category headings this year:

What I Think We'll See
What I Want To See
What I Don't Want To See

With that out of the way, let's wrap up the freshmen section of the previews with today's entry....

Matt Heldt

Freshman - #12 - Center - 6'10" - 255 lb.

You see a lot of people referring to Henry Ellenson as the "foundational" recruit for Steve Wojciechowski.  I get what they're saying, as Ellenson is the highest ranked recruit to attend Marquette in a long time, if not ever.  But Matt Heldt is the first recruit that Wojo reached out to that committed to Marquette.  Both Sandy Cohen and Nick Noskowiak were merely recommitting to Marquette after Wojciechowski was hired.  So, in a way, Matt Heldt is the true foundation for Wojo's recruiting.  Heldt was the first one to hear the pitch from Wojo and say "yep, this is the place and the coach for me."

Heldt is a graduate of Neenah High School in (wait for it) Neenah, Wisconsin.  He earned three varsity letters playing for the Rockets, and was named Fox Valley Association Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons.  Heldt averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and over two blocks as a junior, good enough for all-state honors, and then followed that up with 19 points and nine rebounds as a senior while shooting an absurd 68.2% from the field to pick up first team all-state honors for the second time in a row, and for a third consecutive year when you count his honorable mention as a sophomore.

His recruiting profile is kind of all over the place.  Scout has him as a four star prospect ranked #76 in the country, while 247 Sports has him at #143 and only a three star prospect in their internal rankings, and only up to #136 in their Composite system.  Rivals marks him as a three star recruit, while ESPN tabs him as a four star guy.

What I Think We'll See

By nature of how the alphabetical ordering went, we started the freshmen previews with Sacar Anim, a guy who comes to Marquette with very little expectations on him for his freshman campaign.  In a nice touch of symmetry, we wrap up the freshmen previews with Heldt, who's in the same situation.  While Henry Ellenson and Matt Heldt are the same height, Heldt is much more of a traditional center.  As luck would have it, Marquette already has a very good traditional center on the team in Luke Fischer.  With Fischer healthy after offseason shoulder surgery and coming off a season where he played nearly 30 minutes a game, Heldt is not going to be asked to do all that much.  All Heldt really needs to do this season is fill in those 10-ish minutes that Fischer's not going to play because he needs a breather/has a slight bit of foul trouble, look like he belongs on the court while he's out there, and absorb all the strength and conditioning training that Todd Smith can throw at him.  That's all.

What I Want To See

The one thing I've noticed about Heldt from watching a few of his high school games on TV, and then his (admittedly limited) time on the court in Europe and at Marquette Madness is that he is going to GO AT YOU.  If Matt Heldt is on the court to play some ball, you're getting everything Matt Heldt can throw at you.  He's hustling his gigantic, lanky frame up and down the court with abandon, and if you give him an inch to make a post move on you, he's going straight at the rim with intent that Marquette fans remember seeing in Davante Gardner.

He also might be better than you think defensively.  Luke Fischer had to sit out Marquette Madness because he caught an elbow to the head the day before.  This meant that Heldt and Henry Ellenson were set on separate teams the entire night.  Ellenson essentially disappeared.  If he was on the perimeter or on the break, Ellenson looked like the guy that we saw in Europe, including hitting a snazzy step back long two-pointer.  If he was inside, in the post, with Heldt putting a body on him?  Disappeared.  It takes some pretty good skills and a bit of determination to essentially wipe Henry Ellenson from the equation, and in a scrimmage amongst teammates, it sure looked like Heldt did that.

The point I'm getting at is maybe there's more than 10 minutes a game in Heldt.  What if - and this is just a whacky hypothetical here - but what if Wojciechowski decides he can trust his big men together for stretches?  Fischer surprised me by being able to run the floor a bit in Europe.  What if  Wojo figures out a way to play Ellenson at the three, Fischer at the four, and Heldt at the five?  Or, heck, because Heldt showed a little ability to step out and shoot threes in high school, flip those last two with Heldt at the four.  Three 6'10" dudes all playing at once for Marquette, along with whatever backcourt you want to throw out there with them.  Again, totally hypothetical, but it sounds pretty flipping sweet, doesn't it?

What I Don't Want To See

Maybe it was just Heldt being familiar with Ellenson through years of seeing him at various grassroots events and then in scrimmages in the Al McGuire Center, but Heldt doing a number on Ellenson on defense at Madness made me concerned about MU's ability to run a lineup out there with Ellenson at center.  Bigger, stronger, more experienced college players might have just as easy of a time wiping Ellenson out on the interior as Heldt did.  If that's the case, then it's important for Heldt to be able to vacuum up those minutes when Fischer's not on the floor.  If he can't, for whatever reason - not strong enough, not fast enough, not acclimating to college level hoops, not getting what Wojo needs him to do on defense, that "i" word that I refuse to actually type out - then it's going to cause some dysfunction for Marquette.  The Golden Eagles might not be counting on much from Matt Heldt to be successful this season, but he may end up needing to play a key role as the season goes on.