Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman pulled another shocker. A year after hiring 11-year NFL coach Lovie Smith to revitalize his football program, Whitman nabbed a name few had on their speculative lists to reinvigorate the Illinois basketball program.
Illinois announced Saturday it had hired Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood as the 18th men's basketball coach in program history. ESPN's Jeff Goodman, who first reported the hire, reports that Underwood signed a six-year contract that will pay him more than $3 million annually. He made $1 million last season at Oklahoma State. Underwood's introductory press conference is schedule for noon Monday at the Traditions Club at the State Farm Center.
"I am excited to welcome Brad Underwood, his wife Susan, and their three children to the Fighting Illini family," Whitman said in a statement. "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. 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.
"Coach Brad Underwood is committed to the holistic development of young men as students, athletes, and citizens," Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones said. "Please join me in welcoming Brad and the Underwood family to Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois. Together, under his leadership, we have a championship future."
http://www.scout.com/college/illinois/story/1763964-reaction-to-brad-und...Underwood went 20-12 in his lone season at Oklahoma State and led the Cowboys to an NCAA Tournament appearance, just a year after they went 12-20 under former coach Travis Ford. Prior to his season with Oklahoma State, Underwood led Stephen F. Austin to three straight Southland Conference titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances. At SFA, Underwood accrued a 109-26 overall record and 53-1 conference record, earning Southland Conference coach of the year three times.
"Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-lifetime opportunity," Underwood said in a statement. "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. I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program. I can't wait to get started with our team. Next season can't get here fast enough for me!"
A Kansas native, Underwood also served as an assistant under Frank Martin at both Kansas State (2006-12) and South Carolina (2012-13). He also served as a junior college coach at Dodge City (1988-92) and Daytona Beach (2003-06) and served as an assistant at Western Illinois from 1992-2003.
Underwood is known for running a pace-and-space offense that helped Oklahoma State earn the No. 1 offensive efficiency in the country this season.