Feb. 22, 2007
By Matt BrendichAssistant Director of Media Relations
Northern Illinois freshman guard Cody Yelder was a highly touted recruit coming out of Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
After all, Yelder was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and left his alma mater as the school's all-time leading scorer.
Richards also happens to be the alma mater of NBA and Miami Heat superstar, Dwyane Wade.
In fact, the 19-year old Yelder and 25-year old Wade were born exactly six years apart on January 17th.
Although Yelder and Wade attended the same high school, the Calumet Park, Ill., native did not get to see Wade in action as a prep. But there was no doubting the impressions that the two-time NBA all-star left.
"[Wade] had a big legacy at Richards," Yelder said. "He was pretty much overshadowed by other players in the city and didn't get that much exposure like some guys did.
"In all actuality, Richards was the best fit for him."
Not only was Richards the best fit for Yelder, Northern Illinois was as well.
"My last memories of high school was hearing about Northern and how they were up and coming," Yelder said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I could fit in.
"I thought Northern and the group of guys that were here, it would be the best fit for me to come here and play along with them," Yelder continued. "I thought it was a great opportunity."
It didn't take Yelder long to make the most of his opportunity, as he played a key role in the Huskies' 87-82 overtime road victory over Duquesne on November 20, 2006. Yelder picked up a season-high 13 points, six assists and four rebounds in the win.
That was the game where Yelder truly felt he belonged at the collegiate level.
"It hit me against the Duquesne game, away, where I felt like I was really able to contribute and help the team out," Yelder said. "As being a freshman at the point guard spot, that's when it really hit me.
"It was a really good win and I felt I contributed to the win."
It has been an up-and-down freshman season for Yelder as he averaged 8.3 points-per-game for the Huskies in his first ten games.
Yelder, however, missed the following 10 games after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery on December 28th.
"[The injury] was pretty much a shock because I had never been injured before," Yelder said.
The injury brought on five weeks of intense rehabilitation with the Northern Illinois training staff and Yelder was up to the task.
"The rehab process was great," Yelder said. "[Our trainers] had me doing a bunch of things like the treadmill and elliptical to get me back in to shape so I can get out here again this season and play."
Yelder made his return to the court on February 3rd against Buffalo, but he made his presence felt in NIU's 73-51 victory over Bowling Green on February 7th, snapping the Huskies' eight-game losing streak. Yelder totaled nine points and three assists in 15 minutes of action.
"It was nice to get back on the court to play against somebody else, other than against the guys at practice," Yelder said. "It was fun, going about and doing that, just getting back in the swing of things."
Despite being a freshman, Yelder has already made four starts as a rookie. Starting as a freshman, however, is nothing new to Yelder.
"All this is pretty much Déjà vu right now," Yelder said. "The same way when I came in from eighth grade, I wasn't really sure about myself coming into my freshman year. And I just jumped into the scene and played, started a couple of games, and then I secured a starting spot.
"As whereas this year, it feels the same also," Yelder continued. "I am a freshman, and I started some of the games as a freshman at the collegiate level. It was like Déjà vu all over again. Having to work back again, having to build something up."
Yelder accumulated many honors and accolades in high school, but he certainly did not take that for granted when he entered Northern Illinois.
"I knew that nothing was going to be handed to me easily, so I had to grind everything out."