Brad Underwood, potential “next great coach”

Did Illinois basketball find an innovative coach to lead a long-term advancement of the program? A CBS Sports college basketball writer thinks so.

At a Friday roundtable of CBS Sports experts titled “Dribble Handover: Who Will Be The Next Great College Basketball Coach?”, Kyle Boone selected the Illini coach Brad Underwood like “the next coach about to raise his status within the profession considerably in the years to come?”

“I’m betting on that upward trajectory to stay on the slope,” Boone wrote. “His first two seasons at Champaign were anything but spectacular, but last season he featured a tournament caliber team, and next season he will have an Illini team that should compete for a Big Ten title.” In case that happens, a place like Illinois with its proud history coupled with its talent-rich closeness to Chicago suggests that Underwood has the firepower at his disposal to make Illinois a real force, not just the next one. season, but for years to come. “

Other coaches mentioned include BYU’s Mark Pope and the state of Murray Matt McMahon.

After inheriting a program he had lost four consecutive NCAA tournaments under John GroceUnderwood quickly delivered most of the list during the first two years of its rebuilding. But the Illini struggled with an overall record of 26-39 (11-27 Big Ten) during its first two seasons at Champaign.

But last season with a Chicago native Ayo Dosunmu – a selection from the first team All-Big Ten – and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kofi CockburnUnderwood led the Illini to his best Big Ten season by winning percentage (13-7, fourth place) since the 2004-05 NCAA second team.

Before coming to Champaign, Underwood spent a season in Oklahoma state, leading the Cowboys to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament after a 0-6 start to play Big 12. Before his brief stint in Stillwater, Underwood had great success with Stephen F. Austin, leading the Lumberjacks to a remarkable overall record of 89-14, including 53-1 in the Southland Conference game. Born in Kansas, Underwood served as an assistant to Bob Huggins and Frank Martin from 2006-13.

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman He certainly believes he has the show’s long-term response and a star. He gave Underwood a three-year contract extension in early March, leading to their agreement during the 2025-26 season.

“I am extremely pleased with the upward trajectory of our Fighting Illini men’s basketball program and I believe we are headed towards a championship future,” Whitman said at the time in a statement. “Under Coach Underwood’s leadership, our student athletes have demonstrated steady progress on the court and in the classroom. He has instilled a culture based on competitiveness, toughness, preparedness, and accountability that is delivering exciting results. His ability to project a vision for The Future of the Program, recruiting elite players for Champaign-Urbana and making them a winning team has exceeded even my certainly high expectations at this relatively early stage in his tenure. Perhaps most importantly, I have enjoyed watching the bonds formed between players and players and players and coaches, all of whom care deeply for each other, committed to their collective successes, and mutually support each other, on and off the field, in victory and defeat.

“I am grateful to Brad and Susan for joining our Fighting Illini family, and we look forward to many future years of their leadership, friendship and commitment here at the University of Illinois. I also appreciate our auxiliary coaching staff and the many talented and Dedicated from our support staff who have worked tirelessly to advance our men’s basketball program. We are happy to build stability within our staff and believe it will produce even greater success. “