Recruiting a winner

By Matt Stacionis

Waubonsee Community College head coach Dave Heiss has made a decision, called time and examined more than 500 games in his 16-year career.

He also has his team nationally ranked among junior colleges and is a newly named candidate for the head coaching job at NIU. Heiss, who fields his team from Kane Country area players, feels that he should have a legitimate shot for the NIU vacancy.

“I love Brian Hammel and I had a good relationship with Brian, but when he came in, I think they got away from the philosophy of recruiting the Chicago suburbs and the Chicago public schools,” Heiss said. “I have contact where they need contacts, like the Rockford area, the Aurora area, the Elgin area, the Chicago suburbs, Proviso East, Proviso West, St. Joes. And then you need to get in with some quality players coming out of the public league.”

Heiss said the basis for NIU’s recruiting needs to come from the area. He said that the new coach should improve communication with the surrounding area basketball personnel.

“I think one of the complaints has been, and it’s coming from the community college coaches and it’s also coming from some of the area high school coaches, they hadn’t heard from the coaching staff up at Northern,” Heiss said.

With NIU being criticized for a lack of being able to recruit area players, a community college coach may be something for them to examine. NIU is surrounded by Rock Valley College, WCC and Elgin Community College.

Rock Valley head coach Carl Armato, an alumnus and coaching candidate, said that he also wants to cultivate a similar relationship between NIU and the community colleges around the area.

Rock Valley has two of the top area junior college players with Bolor Oynchimeg and Jeff Merchant, and Armato feels that both players would be a good fit for NIU’s program. He said he remembers having a player, Jeremy Warner, who reminded him of Tim Dillon. Warner was the MVP of Rock Valley’s conference but was not looked at by NIU. Warner played for a Rockford Boylan team that was ranked in the state before his time at RVC.

Armato said he wants to use his connection with the university to build a strong relationship there. In earlier interviews he stressed his positive feelings for NIU.

“I am in full support of NIU,” Armato said. “I enjoyed my time there.”

He also feels NIU should recruit the Rockford area, and like Heiss, feels it hasn’t been a strong part of the Huskies’ basketball program in the last few years.

“It’s like the University of Illinois and Peoria,” he said. “U of I gets every good player out of Peoria. It would be good if NIU could get every good player out of Rockford. Then the community of Rockford would support them more.”