Underwood next Illini basketball coach

Underwood next Illini basketball coach

CHAMPAIGN — The search for the next Illinois men’s basketball coach is over. Illinois hired Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood on Saturday afternoon a week after firing John Groce. A source close to the program said Underwood will be retaining assistant coach Jamall Walker, who is currently leading the Illini in the NIT as interim coach.

"In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois basketball," Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said in a release. "Brad's teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball.

"Off the court, Brad builds strong, personal relationships with his student-athletes. His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a perfect fit for our community and the Illini Nation."

A source close to the program confirmed that Underwood will receive a six-year contract at more than $3 million per season, although full contract details have not been finalized.

His five-year contract at Oklahoma State was set to pay him $6.3 million for the duration — $1 million for this past season with raises to $1.6 million by 2020-21.

Underwood was one of the hotter coaching names last season having led Stephen F. Austin to a 28-6 record and third straight NCAA tournament appearance in 2015-16.

He just didn’t stay on the coaching carousel long. Barely more than 24 hours after the 14th-seeded Lumberjacks lost in the second round to Notre Dame, Underwood was named Oklahoma State’s new coach with the Cowboys having parted ways with Travis Ford after eight seasons.

Underwood’s stay in Stillwater, Okla., ended up being short, too. After a 20-13 season and first round loss to Michigan in the NCAA tournament, Underwood is moving on to Illinois.

"Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said. "The players, fans and administration at Oklahoma State have been absolutely incredible, and I want to thank them for the support they've given me and my family over the last year. However, during my time at Western Illinois, I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation."

Underwood compiled an 89-14 record in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin and lost just one game in Southland Conference action in his first head coaching job. Underwood got the Stephen F. Austin job after 18 seasons as an assistant and seven as a junior college head coach.

Underwood played at Hardin-Simmons for two seasons and Kansas State for his final two before graduating in 1986. He was the Dodge City Community College coach from 1988 through 1992 before spending the next 10 seasons on Jim Kerwin’s coaching staff at Western Illinois.

Underwood then returned to his alma mater, coaching for one season at Kansas State under Bob Huggins and five more under Martin. He followed Martin to South Carolina for the 2012-13 season before taking the job at Stephen F. Austin.

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cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Can't wait for all 3 aliases to show up and comment on this.



JamesB wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Who cares what the negative posters say. Henson said this guy is a great coach, that's good enough for me.  If he can keep aast coach Walker and the 2016 recruits and seal the deal on Smith we could see a quick turnaround,

JamesB wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Who cares what the negative posters say. Henson said this guy is a great coach, that's good enough for me.  If he can keep aast coach Walker and the 2016 recruits and seal the deal on Smith we could see a quick turnaround,

MasterOfTheObvious wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Here goes... again, facts.

One year ago today, Underwood was a head coach in the SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE

His exposure in Illinois is based on 11 years as an Assistant at Western Illinois

Underwood has been a Power 5 head coach for 362 days and went .500 in the Big XII with someone Travis Ford's players.  Oklahoma State had made the NCAA Tournament 3 out of the last 4 years before dumping Travis Ford last March after a 12-20 / 3-15 record.  This year Underwood got them back to the NCAAs after a 1 year absence, went 20-13, 9-9 - more or less the same as the Illini under Groce this year, but the Big XIII is a lesser league than the Big Ten.

For all of the talk about paying 4.8M and getting a big name, just like when Groce was hired, Illinois did not go out and spend big to get a big name, proven coach.

Not calling this a whiff, but it's obvious to me that Whitman prioritizes football over basketball in terms of $$$ and in terms of going after a name.

One week to do a search to land a guy who went .500 in the 7th best league is not a home run to me.

Time will tell.


wayward wrote on March 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

"but the Big XIII is a lesser league than the Big Ten"

Not so sure about that. Took a look at the latest AP Top 25 rankings and Big 12 has Kansas (3), Baylor (12), West Virginia (13), Iowa State (16). Big 10 has Purdue (15), Michigan (23), and Wisconsin (25). It will be interesting to see how each conference is represented in the Sweet 16.

cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 18, 2017 at 7:03 pm

None of your aliases would recognize a fact if it was placed directly in front of you.

Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

CNH AND Bwp, could you try to actually write something interesting instead of your insistence in indulging in a fallacious premise?

Hoping for the new hire works out. Go Illini.

Oops, I'm cheerleading.

cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 18, 2017 at 7:03 pm

moonpie, er wiseguy chastising others for fallacy-based argument.

Now that is precious.

Bwp 5P wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

The Haters must not be aware yet! Waiting to hear about him being our 14th pick........and how many others turned us down. I mean.......apparently, they're all "in the know"!!

wayward wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

How much did Illinois spend to get Underwood out of his contract at Oklahoma State? I wonder how long he'll stay here.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Until he gets fired or quits is my guess.   He has just landed.  Give him a chance.

wayward wrote on March 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

I'm not denying that he might be a good coach. But from the story, it looks like he stayed at Oklahoma State for about a year before moving into something else. That's why I wondered how long he'd stay here.

Brownshoe wrote on March 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Well, I'm underwhelmed.

But I expected to be underwhelmed, for it is not a great job, and in no way were we going to get a "home run," coach - especially not with the Indiana job open. IMO our only home run hope was Monty Williams, and he did not want it.

But, truly, the home run decision won't really be made for at least a year or two, and maybe Underwood will turn our to have been one. I hope so.

The key question is: CAN HE RECRUIT?

I really wanted to see an assistant get it, another Chris Collins, etc., with Jamall Walker heading my list - simply because I think he is well qualified and my familiarity with other possible assistants is zilch.

In any event I'm behind Underwood 100%, but if he does not pan out, Whitman really screwed up, not in firing Groce, but in not promoting Walker, whom I think would have been just as promising as Underwood.

I hope, for Underwood's sake, if nothing else, that he can at least keep this recruiting class, if not he will be off on the wrong foot. Getting Mark Smith also, would be a huge step in the right direction. Those two goals should be the only thing on his plate right now, if they aren't, he was a mistake - but I'm sure he knows that, he better.

At least Whitman did not waste time.

P.S. To those posters who are having a kindergarten girl cat fight, whose posts clutter this up with stuff I have to ignore. ARE YOU PEOPLE SICK? DON'T YOU REALIZE THAT NOBODY READS, OR WANTS TO READ, YOUR CRAPOLA?


Rocky7 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 7:03 pm

It's an interesting choice and could work.  However, I said the same thing when Lou Henson was hired and that turned out pretty good.

SilentGeorge wrote on March 19, 2017 at 7:03 am

Any relative of Frank Underwood is welcome at Illinois.  If he has a brother that could run for Speaker of the Illinois House, I would vote for him, too.

cjwinla wrote on March 21, 2017 at 8:03 am

Wow... that picture above says it all... White Privilege on a private plane in all its glory .... all white folk in a sport that is mostly black... making millions off these black players while giving them peanuts in return .... and not a single person of color is even considered.... Champaign IL is the definition of the new movie Get Out .... Use and Abuse black men for your entertainment pleasure... while giving nothing back in return ... #Disgust.

orange-n-blue wrote on March 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

That's it, go ahead and keep that attitude. That's going help you really go places. And you know not a single person of color was considered, How? They have interviewed and offered in the past.I had never heard of Underwood before because other than Illini I don't follow college bkbll that closely anymore. But Coach Underwood sounds like a great fit, with a plan and a great attitude--dissimilar to yours.I'm pretty sure the best decision is to hire the best candidate you can, not base the decision on what race he or she happens to be.

C mon man wrote on March 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Oh, I don't know. The flight attendant could have been "of color", and the picture also doesn't show all the seats on the plane. Maybe someone "of color" was taking the picture. How much of a  "privilege" is it to be working on Saturday? Apparently you must think flying on a plane is a joy ride instead of a necessary function of work. I personally hate flying, and do not consider it a privilege whether commercial or private - and I have done plenty of both.

So, what you are saying is that all the scholarships and opportunities provided to black men thru basketball are an insult and, since you consider it use and abuse, they should find more like Michael Finke and Maverick Morgan to use and abuse and make their millions off of? I am sure you could find many people to agree with your racist point of view...#Ignorance.  

cjwinla wrote on March 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Clearly as a person of White Privelege you cannot see what is obvious . They probably did make an offer to a person of color but the Stepford Attitudes of the white power elite in Champaign/Urbana is such that living in CU as a black man is an experience that only those who promise to obey and keep their mouth shut are willing to endure ... as for those " benefits" the atheletes get ... $50k in tuition/housing max and you have to graduate in 4 years or pay the balance out of pocket to graduate ... while the University and its benefactors/coaches make million$ per year off the efforts of young black men ... it's legalized pimping that's for sure ... Go see the movie Get Out and you will see Champaign Urbana in the mirror .... the truth may hurt but it ain't racist....I couldn't help but laugh at the Finke reference, he couldn't play on any B10 team except the good ole boy U of I. 

BruckJr wrote on March 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm

That's the same plane that Lovie flew into town on a year ago.

Coach Verf wrote on March 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

With the hiring of basketball coach Brad Underswwod, has anything been decided as far as asst. coaches yet?   Typically, a new hire head coach will bring his previous assts. with him.  All well and good.  There's also been a lot of talk that the U of I needs to once again bring some of the top ranked players from the Chicago area.  How about a past U of I player, from the Chicago area, was ranked as the #1 high school player in the country, also played in the NBA, and has been coaching high school basketball in Sarasota, Florida, for the past few years.  Marcus Liberty, is currently head basketball coach at Out of Door Academy and has the Chicago connection which may able to influence some of the elite Chicago area players into coming to Champaign-Urbana.  Recruiting Chicago area players doesn't seem to have been successful in the past few years.  This could be a successful addition.