On Monday night, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder announced the hiring of Brad Underwood as the program’s 19th men’s basketball coach.
He will be formally introduced to the Oklahoma State fans and media at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Underwood arrives at OSU following a three-year stay at Stephen F. Austin that ranks as one of the best starts to a head coaching career in college basketball history.
Underwood is a 1986 graduate of Kansas State, where he played for former Oklahoma A&M football and basketball standout Jack Hartman. Hartman learned his hoops craft under legendary Cowboy head coach, Mr. Henry Iba. Underwood was a member of Hartman’s final teams at K-State, and helped Hartman become the winningest coach in Wildcat history.
“I named three things that I was looking for in the new head basketball coach at Oklahoma State: character, coaching style and fit,” Holder said. “Brad Underwood gets the highest marks in each of those categories. He played in the Big Eight for Jack Hartman, a disciple of Henry Iba. He has coached and recruited in the Big 12, and has been very successful as a head coach in one of our prime recruiting grounds in the state of Texas. K-State is a sister institution with Oklahoma State in a lot of ways, so anyone who graduates from there and lives in Manhattan is probably going to connect quickly with our fans and our people. And as for character, everyone around him speaks of him as the great friend, father and person he is. In my opinion, Brad Underwood is going to be a great fit for Oklahoma State.”
With his most recent NCAA Tournament run at SFA, Underwood improved his career record to 89-14, tied with Brad Stevens (Butler, 2008-10) for the most wins by a head coach in his first three seasons at an NCAA school.
What’s more, Underwood’s .864 winning percentage is tied with Adolph Rupp (Kentucky, 1931-33) for the fourth best by a head coach after his first three seasons in Division I basketball.
The first coach to ever win three straight Southland Conference Coach of the Year awards, Underwood led SFA to the two longest winning streaks in league history. He and the Lumberjacks won 29 straight games in 2013-14, and his team rode a 21-game win streak into Sunday’s NCAA Tournament second-round showdown against Notre Dame, which came down to the wire.
Underwood piled up a 53-1 record in conference play during his three-years at SFA and put the Lumberjacks in the national spotlight after an upset win over fifth-seeded VCU in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
He matched that success again in 2016 after taking down No. 3 seed West Virginia in the first round. In fact, the Lumberjacks came within two seconds of a trip to the Sweet 16.
Underwood’s SFA teams were known for their defensive prowess, but also for their assist-oriented offenses. This season, the Lumberjacks led the nation in scoring margin (+16.9), turnover margin (+6.5) and turnovers forced (+18.6), and also ranked second in assists per game (18.7) and seventh in steals per game (9.1).
“There’s not enough adjectives to describe how excited I am for the opportunity to coach where some of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball have cut their teeth,” Underwood said. “Oklahoma State has unparalleled tradition, history and culture. The fan support, the noise and the home court advantage is what I remember most about Gallagher-Iba Arena, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of that now. I played in Gallagher-Iba back in the Big Eight days, and then going back as an opposing coach, I can tell you that it’s one of the best venues in the nation. We’re going to have a lot of fun, and I’m excited as heck about the opportunity to get to know the community of Stillwater, and the OSU family.”
Under his guidance, SFA produced eight All-Southland Conference selections, as well as three conference MVPs. Thomas Walkup won each of the last two SLC Player of the Year awards, and helped the Lumberjacks finish the 2015-16 season with a 28-6 mark.
Underwood's quick success at SFA garnered him not just the 2013-14 Southland Conference Coach of the Year honor, but also the 2014 Joe B. Hall Award, given to the nation's top first-year coach, along with being named a finalist for the Jim Phelan award (top Division I coach) and Hugh Durham award (top mid-major coach). Underwood was also named the 2014 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Coach of the Year and the 2013-14 NABC UPS Division I District 23 Coach of the Year.
The `Jacks finished the 2013-14 season 32-3, a program and conference record for most wins in a single season. His first-year success also has him among the NCAA's elite, ranking third all-time in the NCAA's top 10 for best career starts at the Division I level.
The second season with SFA yielded similar results, as Underwood jumped to the top of the NCAA record book with a 61-8 mark though his first two seasons. The 2014-15 team ended with a 29-5 record and came within a win of sweeping the conference for a second straight year, finishing at 17-1. With just one loss at the William R. Johnson Coliseum, the Lumberjacks improved to 32-1 at home under his command.
Prior to Stephen F. Austin, Underwood spent two years as associate head coach at both South Carolina and Kansas State with current Gamecock head coach Frank Martin.
In his final season in Columbia he helped reel in a recruiting class ranked in the national top 40 by ESPN.com. He was also credited with playing a major role in helping revitalize the Kansas State program, which posted 20-win campaigns and advanced to the postseason - including four trips to the NCAA Tournament - during all six of his seasons at KSU.
Underwood spent the 2012-13 season as Martin's top assistant in the staff's first year in Columbia, helping the Gamecocks to four more wins than the previous season. Prior to USC, Underwood served on the Kansas State staff for six years, beginning in May 2006 as the director of operations for then-head coach Bob Huggins. After serving in that capacity for the 2006-07 campaign, Underwood was promoted to assistant coach prior to the 2007-08 season, Martin's first year as the head coach at KSU.
At Kansas State, Underwood helped coach several all-conference players and two All-Americans at his alma mater, while helping the Wildcats win at least 21 games each season and finishing fifth or higher in the Big 12 each year.
Underwood joined the Wildcat staff in 2006, after spending three seasons as the head coach at Daytona Beach Community College in Daytona Beach, Fla. He helped guide the Falcons to a 70-24 (.745) overall record, including three consecutive 20-win seasons and two Mid-Florida Conference Championships from 2003-06. He was twice selected as the Mid-Florida Conference Coach of the Year following the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. He saw 14 players go on to receive scholarships at four-year programs, including Travis Aikens (Marshall), Demetrius Green (Middle Tennessee State), David Lawrence (College of Charleston), Solomon Jones (South Florida) and Blake Young (K-State). An honorable mention All-Big East selection at USF in 2006, Jones was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
In 2005-06, Underwood guided Daytona Beach to a 25-5 overall record and a runner-up finish in Mid-Florida Conference play with a 12-3 mark. He helped six players earn Mid-Florida Conference honors, including two first-team all-league selections, as well as conference player of the year Blake Young. Young went on to earn honorable mention All-America accolades from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and first-team Region VIII accolades. Young and Demetrius Green were both rated among the top 25 players in the country by JucoJunction.com.
He guided the Falcons to back-to-back Mid-Florida Conference Championships in 2003-04 and 2004-05. His 2004-05 squad produced a 24-10 overall record and runner-up finish in Region VIII. Six players earned all-conference accolades, including four first team selections. David Lawrence was also selected to the NJCAA All-Region VIII first team as well as the Florida Community College Athletic Association (FCCAA) All-State team. Underwood's first team collected a 21-9 overall mark and produced one NJCAA All-Region VIII first-team selection.
Prior to his time at Daytona Beach, Underwood spent 10 years as an assistant coach at Western Illinois under Jim Kerwin. The Leathernecks produced a 135-174 record from 1992-2003, including a 79-97 mark in Mid-Continent Conference play. The team advanced to the finals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament three straight seasons (1995, 1996, 1997) and achieved five consecutive seasons of winning at least 16 games. He helped coach 12 all-conference players, including four first-team selections, and four named to the all-newcomer team.
Underwood earned his first head coaching position in 1988 at Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kan., where he spent four seasons as the program's head coach, guiding the Conquistadors to a 62-60 record from 1988-93. His 1990-91 squad compiled a 23-9 record and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation.
A native of McPherson, Kan., he and his wife, Susan, have one son, Tyler, and two daughters, Katie and Ashley.
The Underwood File
Oklahoma State - Head Coach (2016-Pr.)
Stephen F Austin - Head Coach (2013-2016)
South Carolina - Assoc. Head Coach (2012-13)
Kansas State - Assoc. Head Coach (2011-12), Asst. Coach (2007-11), Director of Basketball Operations (2006-07)
Daytona Beach CC - Head Coach (2003-06)
Western Illinois - Asst. Coach (1992-2003)
Dodge City CC - Head Coach (1988-92)
Hardin-Simmons - Graduate Asst. (1986-87)
Playing CareerKansas State (1984-86)Independence CC (1983-84)Hardin-Simmons (1982-83)
Underwood By The Numbers
0 – Coaches in NCAA history with more wins in their first three seasons than Brad Underwood.1 – Underwood’s SFA squad led the country in scoring margin (+16.9), turnover margin (+6.5) and turnovers forced (18.6) in 2015-16.1 – Coaching generation removed from Mr. Henry Iba. Underwood played for Iba’s protégé, Jack Hartman, at K-State.2 – NCAA Tournament wins in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin3 – Conference players of the year coached in three seasons.3 – Conference coach of the year honors Underwood has been awarded.18.7 – Assists per game Underwood’s Lumberjacks averaged in 2015-16, which ranked second in the country.19 – Underwood becomes the 19th coach in the storied history of Oklahoma State basketball.29 – Longest win streak of Underwood’s career. SFA won 29 straight in 2013-14, and won 21 straight this past season.53 – Conference wins for Underwood over the last three years. His SFA teams lost only once against a Southland opponent.86.4 – Underwood’s career win percentage, which is tied with Adolph Rupp of Kentucky for the fourth best three-year start in NCAA history.