Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

Illinois guard Tyler Underwood started the first and only game of his Illini career on March 8 when the Illini defeated Iowa 78-76 at State Farm Center in Champaign. It was senior day for the Illini, with the walk-on getting the start.

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Fans will remember him because ... If fans had a chance to see Underwood in practice the past three seasons — the way he dogged teammates, never making anything easy — they’d understand better those moments he got in the game as the regular-point-guards-are-in-foul-trouble backup. Steady is about as apt a description of any about the type of effort he brought.

Best moment ... Senior Night wound up being a special moment for Underwood — and his dad — before the game. The 6-foot-2 guard got his first career start (not only at Illinois, but at all three of his college stops) and took advantage. Two on-point post entry passes to Kofi Cockburn led to two early buckets in what would be a 78-76 Illini win against Iowa.

Brad Underwood says ... “He’s been in the gym since he was 2. The best part of Tyler is his mental approach, and he understands what’s important about winning. I think he’s invaluable in the locker room. In a lot of ways, he’s a leader in practice because of that. But when he screws up, I’m still all over his butt.”

By the numbers ... Underwood got fairly limited playing time in 14 games this season, so advanced stats tell his story a little better. Like his assist percentage, which is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals he assisted when he was on the court. Underwood trailed just Ayo Dosunmu and Andres Feliz in that metric this season.

What’s next ... That Senior Night game against Iowa wound up being Underwood’s last after both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments were canceled. But he’s not done with basketball. The game is still part of his future with a goal of following in his dad’s footsteps and becoming a coach.

From beat writer Scott Richey ... There was no doubting son took after father when it came to the Underwoods. From an insider’s basketball knowledge to their dry sense of humor. In our last conversation before Senior Night, Underwood shared a story about taking Trent Frazier to the driving range. A Charles Barkley swing comparison came unprompted.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).