Men's Basketball Inks Four Student-Athletes To National Letters Of Intent


November 9, 2005

Northern Illinois Men's Basketball Inks Four Student Athletes To National Letters Of Intent

DeKalb, IL – Christmas came early for Northern Illinois University head men’s basketball coach Rob Judson and his Huskies on Wednesday evening, as the fifth-year skipper inked Darrius Gaters (Chicago/Marshall), Bristan Kelley (Lee’s Summit, MO), Mike Lochner (Maple Grove, MN) and Cody Yelder (Oak Lawn/Richards) to National Letters of Intent to play for the Huskies in 2006-07.

“We are ecstatic to welcome these four student-athletes into the Huskie family,” Judson said. “We feel great about the players that we have recruited and look forward to their arrival next season.”

Size proved to be a focus for Judson and his assistants, as Gaters, Kelley and Lochner each stand over 6-feet, 7-inches tall. Yelder, who is 6-feet tall, will provide versatility as he can play both the point and shooting guard positions.

“With three seniors (Anthony Maestranzi, Todd Peterson and Cory Sims) graduating, we wanted to emphasize recruiting the inside positions and size,” Judson said. “We also wanted to fill a need with a combination perimeter guard.”

Judson lauded the performance of his staff in landing the latest recruiting class.

“Our assistant coaches (Carl Armato, Rick Ray and Donald Whiteside) did an outstanding job of identifying potential recruits, not only in Illinois, but outside the state, because size in state was at a premium.”

Gaters, a 6-7 forward out of Chicago Marshall, is an explosive jumper who runs the floor very well. As a junior, Gaters helped the Commandoes to a berth in the Chicago Public League Final Four.

“Darrius is a player with loads of potential and is athletically gifted,” Judson said. “He plays for one of the top programs in Chicago at Marshall, which is in the Chicago Public League Red West - one of the toughest leagues in the country.”

Marshall coach Lamont Bryant believes that NIU will be a good fit for Gaters.

“Darrius is a positive influence on his team and I think NIU is a good situation for him,” Bryant said. “It’s close (to home) and he has good coaches to learn from.”

Kelley, a 6-7 forward out of Lee’s Summit, MO, will be a strong rebounding presence for the Huskies in the frontcourt. As a junior, Kelley was named to the Kansas City Suburban Big Seven All-Conference First Team after averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game.

“Bristan fills our need for size,” Judson said. “He has a great frame, good hands and has the ability to control the paint area around the basket with
his size.”

Kelley, who also plays tight end for the Lee’s Summit football team, is a very intelligent player according to Tigers Head Basketball Coach Mike Hillbert.

“From a basketball standpoint, he really understands the game and has a great basketball IQ,” Hilbert said. “He handles the ball well for a big kid and he’s a good passer.

“He’s just a solid basketball player.”

Lochner, a 6-10 post player, is a dual threat, as he can control the paint as well as drain a jumper from the high post. As a junior, Lochner averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game on his way to All-Northwest Suburban Conference honors as a junior.

“Mike is a player with size and skill who has the ability to play the high post and shoot well from the outside,” Judson said.

Maple Grove head coach Kurt Maus said Lochner was a key cog to the Crimson’s run to the conference title in 2005.

“Mike is a big guy with good inside power moves,” Maus said. “He has a decent jump shot and he can take a guy inside.”

Yelder, a 6-0 combination guard from Richards in Oak Lawn, brings a wealth of experience to NIU, as he will be a four-year starter for the Bulldogs. As a junior, Yelder averaged 19.7 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game.

“Cody is a tough, physical player with outstanding quickness and ball skills,” Judson said.

Richards head coach John Chappetto believes that the Huskies beat a lot of schools to the punch with Yelder.

“Cody is a quality kid who just loves to play basketball,” Chiapetto said. “Honestly, I’m biased and that’s because he’s been my point guard for four years.”

“I think he’s a steal for Northern Illinois.”

The Huskies will open their exhibition campaign on Monday, November 14th, hosting Benedictine University at 7:05 p.m. in the NIU Convocation Center.

(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) - NIU –



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