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August 23, 2014

Canada review: Max Hoetzel

It was an up and down trip for Max Hoetzel but the 6-foot-8 forward ended the five-game Canadian tour on a true up note, going for 12 points and five boards in the 109-77 finale win over University of Quebec at Montreal. Hoetzel played a tour high 20 minutes and knocked down 2-for-5 beyond the arc and 5-for-9 overall in that time.

As a freshman getting limited minutes (he averaged 11.4 minutes per game), the inconsistency should come as no surprise. He opened the trip with nine points in just 10 minutes against Laval and was 2-for-3 in the loss to Ottawa but then failed to hit a field goal over the next two games including an 0-for-5 outing versus McGill. That's why finishing with a big game against UQAM had to be one of the positives to take away from that final contest.

One of the interesting notes from the Montreal trip was Hoetzel being listed at 6-foot-9 in the rosters handed out before the games. While that might be a bit generous, there's little doubt that the Californian grew some in his one prep season out East at Wilbraham and Monson Academy (Mass.). Even if he might be in the 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-8 range without shoes, Hoetzel has enough height to eventually be an option at the four spot.

Maybe in large part doe to the fact he may be still growing, Hoetzel, however, lacks some of the physical strength right now to play a lot inside and to help him defensively against a lot of small forwards. How quickly Je'Ney Jackson and company can help him add much needed muscle may determine how much playing time he receives over his first couple seasons.

One thing was clear in high school, in April's Derby Festival Classic and in the UQAM finale, Hoetzel has real range to his jumper. He's just as comfortable from 23 feet out as he might be knocking it down from 13 feet away. And he has shown an ability to drive the ball for points as well. Many want to compare him to former Hoosier Matt Roth but Hoetzel has more driving skill and those five more inches of height obviously adds its own versatility.

Before the trip Tom Crean talked about how Hoetzel could take on something that was missing from his 2013-14 team.

"We never got the trail position worked out last year," said Crean. "We lost what I felt was the best trail player in Christian Watford.....so we need that. We never had anybody, even though we tried, we never had anybody that could grab that role and that we could really count on, and Max has got a tremendous opportunity at that."

By the numbers

A look at Hoetzel's cumulative or five game numbers in Canada:

Minutes per game: 11.4 Rebounds per game: 3.0
Scoring average: 5.6 Assists per game: 0.4
Field Goals: 11-26 (42.3%) Turnovers per game: 1.2
3-pt Field Goals: 4-12 (33.3%) Blocks per game: 0.4
Free Throws: 2-4 (50.0%) Steals per game: 0.6

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