By Doug Halberstadt
Northern Illinois University (NIU) head men’s basketball coach Ricardo Patton has been busy during the offseason. He recently announced the additions of freshman Kyree Jones, and junior college transfers Tim Toler and Cameron Madlock, who will all join early period signee Nate Rucker in the 2010-11 Northern Illinois men’s basketball recruiting class.
“We’ve added great talent and depth to our front line, and significantly upgraded our scoring ability on the perimeter with this class,” said Patton. “All three of these young men, along with Rucker, are going to not only immediately help our basketball team, but be great citizens and valuable additions to our university.”
Jones, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound point guard from Indianapolis, comes to DeKalb from North Carolina Tech Preparatory Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C. The son of former Chicago State Head Coach Kevin Jones, Kyree Jones was the No. 56 point guard in the country in ESPN’s 2009 high school class rankings.
Jones will have four years of eligibility with the Huskies. He plans on wearing jersey No. 55 for the cardinal-and-black.
“Kyree is a kid that can really shoot the basketball, and has a high basketball IQ,” Patton said. “He comes from a great basketball family, and is the son of a coach. He will be a key part of our offense in scoring the basketball, but also possesses the ability to dribble, penetrate and find ways to get his teammates open.
“We are extremely excited about Kyree’s potential, and his decision to be a part of our program over the next four years,” Patton added. “He’s a kid that was highly recruited, and made a strong commitment to our vision here. Looking ahead, I’m very excited about Kyree Jones and Tony Nixon playing alongside each other on the perimeter the next three seasons.”
Toler, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound forward from Danville Area Community College (Ill.), will have two years of eligibility at NIU beginning this season. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game this past season, while shooting 52 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range. He was also a 77 percent performer from the free-throw line.
Toler ranks as the No. 10 junior college sophomore in the state of Indiana, according to MidStateHoops.com. The Avon, Ind., native also drew recruiting attention from Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Middle Tennessee State, among others. He intends to wear jersey No. 5 during his career at NIU.
“Tim is a kid that committed to our program last month, and he is really going to bolster our front line,” said Patton. “At 6-7, 270, he’s a load down there, but is really put together well. What impresses me most is his touch around the basket. He can score when throwing the ball into him in the post, but can also step back and shoot it effectively. He’s got a good stroke and is also a threat shooting the 3.
“We needed to add size and a legitimate low-post scorer to our frontcourt, and Tim obviously helps us fill that void,” Patton added. “He’s going to help us win a lot of basketball games the next two years.”
Madlock, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward from Lee Community College in Baytown, Texas, originally hails from Milwaukee, and spent one year (2007-08) at Bowling Green. He will have two years of eligibility remaining in his career with the Huskies, and plans on wearing jersey No. 23.
“Cameron (Madlock) is a kid from Milwaukee that has great size, athleticism and length,” Patton said. “He started out his career at Bowling Green, so he is familiar with our league, and that is going to be beneficial for us.
“Cameron will have a chance to play right away in our program,” Patton added. “He can score in the post, is a great rebounder, and really can change the game defensively. We were a good rebounding team last year, particularly on the offensive boards, but struggled converting those second-chance opportunities. He’s going to help us score more points around the basket.”
Nate Rucker, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound center from Melrose High School in Memphis, Tenn., signed at NIU during the early signing period last November and is the fourth member of NIU’s 2010-11 recruiting class. He led the Golden Wildcats to Tennessee’s Division 1 Class AAA state championship last season.
Coach Patton hopes this recruiting class will help NIU improve on their 10-20 record from last year. NIU tips off their 2010-11 season in November.
From the April 21-27, 2010 issue