CAMPAIGN – Brad Underwood began from scratch by hiring his first batch of assistants when Josh Whitman employed him as Illinois males’s basketball coach in March 2017.
I’ve by no means labored with Orlando Antigua, Chin Coleman or Jamaal Walker earlier than.
It was a very new scenario for Underwood. Solely Stephen Gentry was a brand new face on his first workers at Stephen F. Austin. He had beforehand labored with Mike Boynton in South Carolina and was on the Kansas State workers when Erik Pastrana served as a graduate assistant.
That workers stayed collectively for 3 seasons in Nacogdoches, Texas, earlier than Underwood left for Oklahoma State. He took Boynton with him as an assistant to Stillwater, Oklahoma, throughout that one season with the Cowboys.
Then got here a brand new trio of assistants in Illinois forward of the 2017-18 season. And now a brand new trio of assistants once more after this month’s Antigua and Coleman outings to Kentucky, with Gentry, who changed Walker two years in the past in Illinois, returning to Gonzaga.
“You perceive that guys are leaving for various causes,” Underwood mentioned. “I have a look at the place they’ve gone and every scenario is a bit distinctive. Some very private. Two of these three selections have been very private and had relationship worth to them. I respect that.”
Shedding all three assistant coaches in a single offseason hasn’t occurred in Illinois with out a change on the high. Even the transfer from John Groce to Underwood did not characteristic a full wizard reboot with Walker staying at Champaign.
Nonetheless, Underwood does not see the offseason adjustments as a adverse.
“Every part occurring in the identical 12 months means we win,” Underwood mentioned. “I look this fashion. I am proud. I put collectively a staff that actually the very best reveals within the nation presumably need our guys. I have a look at it like, ‘Okay, I’ll do it once more. I’ll collect that very same sort of workers.
“I hope they do not depart earlier than they turn into head coaches, however rattling it, I am ecstatic for them. I’m delighted that now we have put collectively a staff that everybody thinks is so good. “
Underwood emphasised the dedication Illinois has made to its basketball program as a cornerstone of constructing one other superior teaching workers. The $ 170 million renovation was accomplished simply 5 years in the past. A $ 40 million renovation and growth of the Ubben Basketball Complicated is beneath development.
That monetary dedication, coupled with the present’s success over the previous two seasons, signifies that Underwood could possibly be dealing with an analogous scenario because it did within the spring of 2017, however many issues are totally different because it completes its workers for the 2021 season. -22.
“I really feel like we have already got a few these items,” Underwood mentioned of hiring former Illinois guard Chester Frazier and selling former assistant coach Geoff Alexander. “And our program is in a special place than once we received right here. I feel our model is extraordinarily highly effective. It has been thrilling watching him develop. “
Underwood used the phrase “diligent” a number of instances to explain his course of for hiring a brand new group of assistant coaches. He is aware of what he does not need as he has another assistant coach emptiness to fill. A coach who sees Illinois as the subsequent cease or a “cash theft” scenario?
“I’ve no real interest in these guys,” Underwood mentioned. “We’re speaking to the fitting guys that I do know are the fitting match, and but we have gotten calls from guys that may blow you away when it comes to individuals wanting this job. Folks know the place our model is. That was superb. Now, it is only a matter of getting the fitting man right here. “
Scott Richey is a reporter protecting faculty basketball for The Information-Gazette. His electronic mail is email@example.com and you may comply with him on Twitter (@srrichey).