By Joe Henricksen
The recruiting steam Northern Illinois has built under recently hired Mark Montgomery continues as the Huskies landed a big commitment Friday. Abdel Nader, who put together an all-state season this past winter at Niles North, will be added to NIU's 2011 recruiting haul.
Nader, who was once committed to New Mexico, had been toying with the idea of re-classifying and attending a prep school this fall, thus becoming a Class of 2012 recruit. In fact, several high-majors were taking interest in Nader as a 2012 recruit.
However, the Nader recruitment to Northern Illinois has been in the works for awhile as Montgomery and his staff zeroed in on the talented 6-7 forward. Nader is now on track as a 2011 recruit and will join the Northern Illinois basketball program this fall, along with fellow in-state recruits De La Salle's Dre Henley, Glenbard East's Zach Miller and Keith and Kevin Gray of Brooks. The Huskies will also welcome Marquavis Ford, a talented combo guard out of Saginaw (MI), and DeAndre Barnette, a 6-4 guard out of Jackson (TN).
This past season, Nader led Niles North to its best season in school history. The Vikings won the school's first-ever sectional title and a school record 24 victories. Niles North fell to Warren, 56-50, in the supersectional.
Along the way, Nader put up some monster performances in key games, including the 32 point, 10 rebound, 6 block performance in a win over Evanston in the Central Suburban League title game. He scored 36 points in a regional title victory over Glenbrook North in March. And in an early-season win over Glenbrook North, Nader poured in a career-high 49 points. He finished the season averaging 23.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 blocks a game.
Nader is a versatile forward who is athletic and can face up and knock down shots with range. He's an ideal face-up 4-man who could be an impact player sooner than later in the Mid-American Conference. The opportunity to play early played a big part in Nader turning away interest from higher profile programs. Nader finished the year as the City/Suburban Hoops Report's 10th ranked player in the Class of 2011.
With the 1-2 punch of Henley and Nader leading the way, it could be argued Northern Illinois has its best recruiting class since the mid-1980s when West Aurora's Kenny Battle and East Aurora's Rodney Davis headed a terrific class hauled in by former coach John McDougal. The Class of 2011 is certainly one that could push the Huskies towards the top of the MAC in coming years.
Northern Illinois also has locked up its first 2012 recruit as Mike Davis, a shooting guard from Garfield Heights in Cleveland, committed to the Huskies on Thursday. NIU's priority recruit going forward is junior point guard Fred Van Vleet of Rockford Auburn, one of the top 10 Illinois prospects in the Class of 2012.