UM's Bielfeldt might be back, after all

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Max Bielfeldt gets a framed jersey during Senior Day on Saturday at Michigan.

Ann Arbor -- Even after his Senior Day, Michigan's Max Biefeldt still has a year of eligibility remaining. Although coach John Beilein has said that he would like to pursue other opportunities with that scholarship, it's not a done deal that Bielfeldt couldn't possibly be back with the Wolverines next season.

"We'll talk after the season," Beilein said. "I don't think anything is ever closed. I wanted to make sure we under-promise and over-deliver and make sure he knew that this was his last year. I would like him to go out and explore some options and we'll explore some options and we'll decide if it's a good option to come back."

Beilein was in a similar position with Jordan Morgan two years ago and with Jon Horford before this season. Morgan returned and Horford left for Florida, but the precedent has been made.

Bielfeldt, who also was recruited by Illinois out of high school, said he'd want to return but wouldn't make a snap decision if he were offered a scholarship to return.

"When I was offered by Illinois and Michigan, I never just jumped on one. I'm the guy who likes to think things through and think of the big picture," he said. "Obviously, (Michigan) would be at the top of my list. I wouldn't just jump on it — that's not who I am."

But with the chance to sit down with Beilein to discuss the opportunities and to see what other schools might offer a scholarship, he could leave or stay.

"I haven't shut any doors. I just want to finish the season as strong as I can. That's what I've done my whole life," he said. "I was a late recruit here after I had a great senior year of high school. I was focused on playing as well as I could and that's how I ended up here.

"I just want to focus on playing as well as I can because I know if I can do that, the best options will open up."

Managing the roster

A couple weeks ago, Beilein had a surprise for former team managers Ryan Kapustka and Jon Rubenstein. Because of all the injuries on the roster, Beilein wanted them to join the team in practices and suit up.

But that wasn't all. Beilein asked if they'd be interested to suit up and play in the regular-season finale. Both freshmen jumped at the chance.

"They were managers and we started dressing them. In the manager games, the word came out that Jonny and Ryan could play and they were all right," Beilein said. "We were looking for somebody when Caris and Derrick went down."

They both entered the game in the final minutes, along with Austin Hatch and walk-ons Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich. Rubenstein got a bigger lift when he was fouled and had a chance to shoot a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity.

He missed the chance but it was still a highlight for him and the other Wolverines.

"That's awesome," Aubrey Dawkins said. "He had that free throw; I wish he would have made it, but to have that chance is unforgettable."

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

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