Jaylen Key shelved for season


Jaylen Key shelved for season

By Julian Nunnery

DeKALB — The men’s basketball team has concluded two thirds of its season without arguably one of their most dynamic players in junior forward Jaylen Key.

Key is now medically cleared to play after recovering from an off-season shoulder surgery and a slipped disc injury in his back. However, both Key and the coaching staff have mutually agreed he will remain sidelined with a redshirt status for the remainder of the season.

“This year I decided to redshirt,” Key said. “I didn’t get cleared until early in January. This is a big year for me being that it’s my junior year. I didn’t want to waste it, so I decided to redshirt this year.”

Key averaged nearly 22 minutes per game and averaged third on the team in rebounds with 4.3 per game and blocks with 0.4 per game. He was also fifth in scoring at 8.0 points per game, and his .464 3-point percentage was second highest on the team.

At 6 feet 8 inches and 230 pounds, Key is a stretch forward who is capable of defending either forward positions or even the off-guard position at any point in the game.

Head Coach Mark Montgomery said the Huskies were looking for increased scoring production from Key this season to compliment sophomore guard Eugene German averaging 20 points per game and junior forward Levi Bradley averaging 14.6 points per game.

“He brings his [effort] to every practice,” Montgomery said. “I can see he’s ready to take the next step.”

Bradley spoke on the impact of Key not playing this season and what players on the team have had to step up in his absence.

“Not having Jaylen hurts us a lot,” Bradley said. “It’s basketball, and the next person has to step up. Noah McCarty, Anastasios Demogerontas, Lacey James and myself have all tried to step up our game a little bit just to try to make up for what we are missing in Jaylen, who is a big time player.”

NIU remains at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference West division. However, the Huskies still have five remaining conference games in which they can better position themselves to go on a playoff run.