Who's Brad Underwood?
BEYOND THE BIO: 10 things to know about Brad Underwood
1 He boasts the same Division I winning percentage — 80 percent and change — as John Wooden. Of course, UCLA’s Wizard of Westwood coached for 29 years. Next season will be Underwood’s fifth at the NCAA’s top level.
2 Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was 40 when he made his Big Ten head coaching debut. Iowa’s Fran McCaffery was 51, Northwestern’s Chris Collins 39, Ohio State’s Thad Matta 37, Purdue’s Matt Painter 35. Underwood (b. Dec. 14, 1963) will be 54 come 2017-18 conference tipoff time, tied for the oldest Big Ten start among current conference coaches with Michigan’s John Beilein, now 64.
3 Among the 277 people he follows on Twitter, in the non-media category: @coachbruceweber, @LonKruger, @CoachBillSelf ... and @garthbrooks.
4 If he’s looking for assistants, there’s no shortage of former Illini who’d love a jingle. “Let him know I would love to come back to coach my alma mater,” Kiwane Garris told us Saturday from Atlanta. “I think it is missing ex-Illini players. Plus, I can help navigate around the Chicago area and down here in Georgia.”
5 Another Illini great is taking a wait-and-see-how-he-recruits-Chicago’s-Public-League approach. In response to the usual glowing and gleeful praise for Josh Whitman’s hire on Twitter, Eddie Johnson wrote: “brilliant? Let it happen first and let’s see how he recruits in CPL. Grandiose descriptions mean 0.”
6 Illinois is new territory for Underwood, who last coached a Land of Lincoln product in 2011-12, as a Kansas State assistant — little-used Chicago native Jeremy Jones, who left the team when Bruce Weber was hired a year later.
7 Underwood played at Hardin-Simmons (where Lou Henson got his head coaching start) before transferring to Kansas State (where he played for Lon Kruger’s college coach), scoring 101 points in two seasons off the bench. “Thank God for Oklahoma State, Brad is a much better coach than he was a player,” Kansas coach and Okie State alum Bill Self joked at Big 12 media day this season. “He was actually a guy I hoped that we could sign because I didn’t think (he) would take away many minutes.”
8 Kruger arrived here with eight NCAA tournament wins under his belt. Henson had seven, Self four, John Groce three, Weber and Underwood two apiece. But Underwood’s two are doozies — his long-shot Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin won as a double-digit seed in two tournaments — over No. 5 seed VCU in 2014 and No. 3 seed West Virginia in 2016.
9 His 89 wins at Stephen F. Austin are tied for the best three-year start to a head coaching career in Division I history. The other guy who won that many: one-time Mike Thomas target Brad Stevens at Butler.
10 We’re guessing it was an Oklahoma State fan who updated the “title” section of Underwood’s Wikipedia page Saturday afternoon to read “Back Stabber.” It was changed back to “Head coach” by early evening.
— Jeff D’Alessio