Wisconsin men’s basketball gets guard Max Klesmit from Neenah, Wofford

MADISON — Still working to rebuild the roster for next season, Greg Gard and the Wisconsin staff have added a second transfer guard.

And like the first, this player has ties to the state.

Max Klesmit, a Neenah High School star who played two seasons at Wofford, announced on Saturday that he was transferring to UW.

Klesmit, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, had transfer offers from South Carolina and Vanderbilt from the SEC, Clemson and Colorado State.

He joins guard Kamari McGee, a graduate of Racine St. Catherine’s, who is transferring to UW after playing one season at UW-Green Bay.

Klesmit averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season. He shot 34.0 percent from three-point range (68 of 200), 44.6 percent overall (156 of 350), and made 83.7 percent of his free throw attempts (82 of 98).

Klesmit started two games and played in 19 as a rookie. He averaged 8.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game and 37.3% from three-point range (25 of 67), 46.6% total (54 of 116) and 84.6% from the free throw line (22 of 26).

“He’s fulfilled a lot since leaving high school,” Neenah’s coach Lee Rabas said. “He’s bigger. Wilder shoulders. Bigger frame.

“For us, as a senior, he did everything. He could score. He could reach the basket. He could hit outside shots out of the grip, out of the dribble. He had too many dunks to count his senior year.

Can Klesmit move from the Southern Conference to the Big Ten?

“He’s someone who has always adapted,” Rabas said, adding that Klesmit was also an all-conference defender as a senior. “He started his second year for us right away.

“He’s a super competitive kid with a lot of mental toughness. He’ll take action. He’s one of those – he’ll always get better. He’s got every step of the way. He’s adapted to what was” new” for him.

Wofford finished 10-8 in the Southern Conference last season and lost in the league tournament semifinal to top seed Tennessee-Chattanooga, 79-56.

Tennessee-Chattanooga, then led by former UW assistant Lamont Paris, won the league tournament, then pushed Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling, 54-53.

Paris resumed the South Carolina program on March 22 and eventually sued Klesmit.

Klesmit scored 27 points in a loss to South Carolina last season and had 17 points, including 15 in the second half, in a win over Georgia.

Prior to signing with Wofford, Klesmit was a three-time All-State interpreter at Neenah. He averaged 25.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a senior when he led the Rockets to a 23-2 mark.

Klesmit played AAU ball for the Wisconsin Blizzard. Blizzard’s Rich Kuranda thinks Klesmit was under-recruited coming out of Neenah. His reasoning? Klesmit scored 37 points in his team’s 84-79 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Elite in July 2019.

The Las Vegas Elite team introduced Jalen Green, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft; and Josh Christopher, who went No. 24 in this draft.

“I thought to myself, ‘He can play with anyone. This kid is a big moment,’ Kuranda said.

Kuranda recently spoke to Klesmit about the decision to leave Wofford.

Klesmit told Kuranda: “I really think I can play in a Power 5 (school). It’s always been my dream. I’m going to give it a shot.

He has that chance now, in his home country.

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