Illinois Basketball: Extending Brad Underwood is a smart move for the Illini – Writing Illini - Techy Hunters

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Illinois Basketball: Extending Brad Underwood is a smart move for the Illini – Writing Illini

Illinois basketball fans will be seeing Brad Underwood coaching the program for a long time.

On Thursday afternoon, the Illini announced that Underwood is getting an extension through 2027. This extension makes his current contact a six-year deal extending through the 2026-27 campaign.

In the press release sent out by the program, athletic director Josh Whitman expressed his fortune for having landed Underwood and the meaning of the head coach to the program.

“It was just four years ago that we brought Coach Underwood here with the vision he and I shared of returning Illinois Basketball to national prominence, and he has delivered,” Whitman said. “The ‘Every Day Guys’ culture he has developed defines our locker room and permeates every facet of the program…”

Whitman goes on to talk about the future of the Illini.

“…Those are significant achievements. And yet, knowing Brad as I do, he remains focused on the future, determined to elevate our program to new heights. He is as steadfast in his quest to build a championship program here at the University of Illinois as he was on March 18, 2017…”

Extending Brad Underwood is a smart move for the Illinois basketball program.

I think we all remember what former athletic director Mike Thomas did to the revenue-generating sports – football and basketball – at Illinois. He effectively blew them up. Since Whitman was hired, he has been rebuilding those two programs and has hit gold with the basketball team.

While the football program is still trying to find their footing, Underwood has proven that the Illini can get back to being a competitive basketball team once again. He has done numerous things to prove that Illinois is a national title contender, but there are two things that solidify the extension the most.

Recruiting and winning.

Underwood took over an Illinois program that had a C+ recruiting ability and a D+ winning ability. That is an ugly combination. He changed the program from day one and has been building it ever since.

In just five recruiting classes, Underwood has landed nine top 100 recruits, three of which were top 50 talents. He also brought in 10 total four-star players. But recruiting is more than just a good player. It is the right fit. Underwood has been able to land the point guard, the shooting guard, and the center. He can build a program rather than just recruit.

The rebuild took a couple of years, but Illinois is winning now. Back-to-back 20-win regular seasons for the first time since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 campaigns. Back-to-back NCAA tournament berths – yes, I am counting 2019-20 – for the first time since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons as well.

The Illini aren’t heading in the right direction anymore. They are at their destination. With Underwood at the helm, the rebuild is complete. Illinois basketball is back!



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