DeKALB – Northern Illinois men's basketball coach Mark Montgomery remembers his first time shaking Jordan Threloff's hand. It was hard to forget the size.
He said it looked like the 6-foot-10 Threloff, a former DeKalb High standout and the 2010 Daily Chronicle Boys Basketball Player of the Year, "has gloves and mits on."
Threloff is a much-needed big body for NIU, and could end up being a very welcoming addition to a team that was desperate for size last season, when the Huskies stumbled to a 5-25 finish.
"You finally sit down and meet with him personally, very mature kid. Then you shake his hand and you see that he has gloves and mits on. You kind of get excited and you see broad shoulders, you see it's a 265-pound solid kid," Montgomery said. "You kind of start shaking your head and get excited. He adds an element that we don't have on our team right now."
Threloff's availability for 2013-14 isn't set in stone. After transferring from Illinois State, he applied for the NCAA's hardship waiver due to family reasons. If that is granted, Threloff will be eligible to play this season. If not, he'll be forced to sit out and have just one year of eligibility left, having already used his redshirt year at ISU.
Threloff said he didn't have a timetable for when he'll finally know his status for this season, but him and Montgomery were confident that he'll receive the waiver.
"We feel strong about the waiver," Montgomery said. "Nothing's 100 percent until the NCAA comes and says he's eligible to play right now."
"I'm leaving my life to the NCAA's hands. They're powerful people," Threloff said. "I hope they see what I'm doing here for my family. I made a big sacrifice, I really hope it works out."
Last season with no true center, NIU had players like Keith and Kevin Gray playing out of position at times, having to handle the five spot. The potential availability of Threloff, as well as 6-11 Pete Rakocevic, who sat out last season after transferring from Sacramento State, gives the Huskies some much-needed size up front.
"Both of us in there adds some size, adds some depth," Threloff said. "That's something that's really crucial to win the MAC."
Threloff averaged just 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 21 games (two starts) as a sophomore this past season. However, he also got to go up against Redbirds 6-9 power forward Jackie Carmichael in practice. Threloff credits Carmichael, who averaged 17.4 points per game last season, for his development. The former Illinois State star is considered to be an NBA Draft prospect.
"I'll be surprised if he doesn't get drafted," Threloff said. "Going against someone like that every day and for three years, he helped me tremendously, better than I ever thought."