Brothers hope to revive team

By Brian Earle

A pleasant surprise for men’s basketball this season has been the play of the Armstead brothers: junior guard Aaron and freshman guard Aaric.

Before Aaron graduated from high school, they both attended Hales Franciscan in Chicago, where they posted a 27-4 record and won the Illinois 2A State Championship in 2011.

Aaron is a transfer from San Jose City College, where he averaged 14.4 points per game his last season. The season prior, he spent at Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he appeared in 30 games and scored 3.3 points per game.

Aaric left Hales to play in California. He spent last season playing for La Jolla Prep in San Diego and played his senior year of high school at Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif., where he averaged 22.9 points per game and led his team to the California State Regional Finals.

As they’ve been playing on their own since winning the State Championship at Hales, Aaron and Aaric decided to reunite as Huskies on the court at NIU.

“We wanted an opportunity to play with each other,” Aaron said. “Then we wanted an opportunity to play at Northern, as far as helping bring Northern back as a basketball program.”

Beside playing with one another, Aaric and Aaron each wanted a chance to have playing time and earn a starting spot.

“Coach [Mark Montgomery] told us he was looking for guys; he was recruiting guys who he thought could have a possible impact coming right in,” Aaric said. “You know, a freshman or a transfer. It was definitely in my best interest to come somewhere where I could have the chance to start.”

Each of the Armsteads have seen a heavy dose of the court this season. Due to Aaron’s experience, he was given the first crack, starting in five of the Huskies’ first six games of the season.

In his first start against James Madison, he scored his season-high 16 points during the game.

This season, Aaron has become one of the Huskies’ most reliable shooters from behind the arc, hitting a team-high 15 3-pointers.

“I feel like I’m a confident shooter,” Aaron said. “If defenses want to play us in a zone, I feel like I could shoot them out of the zone.”

In the last six games, Aaric has gotten his chance to show what he can do, starting in the Huskies’ last six games. He scored a career-high 12 points in a loss against Kent State.

“Aaric is a lot more aggressive,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “He’s picked up this system, he’s a slasher, he gets to the basket, he can shoot a 15-foot pull-up, but he’s also a big-time athlete where he can guard two or three different positions. He’s a good rebounder, and we need his length and size.”

With their hard and consistent play this season, the Armsteads will look to be a factor for the Huskies down the stretch this season.