Illinois Men's Basketball Inks Four Student Athletes To National
Letters Of Intent
Christmas came early for Northern Illinois University head mens
basketball coach Rob Judson and his Huskies on Wednesday
evening, as the fifth-year skipper inked Darrius Gaters (Chicago/Marshall),
Bristan Kelley (Lees 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
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
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. Its
close (to home) and he has good coaches to learn from.
Kelley, a 6-7 forward out of Lees 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
Kelley, who also plays tight end for the Lees 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 hes a good passer.
Hes 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
Maple Grove head coach Kurt Maus said Lochner was a key cog
to the Crimsons 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, Im biased and thats
because hes been my point guard for four years.
I think hes 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
(For further information, please contact Matt Brendich) - NIU