Walkup and Parker named all-district; Underwood repeats as Coach of the Year
Award is given annually to the mid-major Coach of the Year
Lumberjacks close out the 2014-15 season at 29-5
Lumberjacks become just the second SLC team to repeat as both regular season and tournament champions
Thomas Walkup becomes the third-straight Lumberjack to be named the conference's Player of the Year
The SFA Lumberjacks defeat Sam Houston State to win the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament.
The Lumberjacks defeat Northwestern State 85-78 in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament.
Underwood, the 11th head coach in Stephen F. Austin history, enters his second season at the helm of the Lumberjack men's basketball team. Underwood has the `Jacks coming off of one of the most storied seasons in program history, putting SFA on the national map with the upset of fifth-seeded VCU in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament on a four-point play to send the game into overtime, their first NCAA Tournament win.
Under his guidance, the `Jacks finished the 2013-14 season 32-3, a program and conference record for most wins in a single season and 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 stats at the Division I level.
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 (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.
Before the win in the big dance, Underwood had heads already turning as he led the SFA to a program- and conference-best 29 wins in the regular season and a perfect 18-0 record in SLC play. The `Jacks became the first Southland school in the league's 51-year history to win 29 games in the regular season and first 30-game winner, passing the 1984-85 Louisiana Tech squad that went 29-3 and reached the Sweet 16 with Karl Malone. Along the way, SFA joined top-ranked Florida and second-ranked Wichita State as the only schools to go undefeated in conference play this season. The 2013-14 squad also became just the 18th team all-time to do so at the Division I level in conference schedules of 18 games or more.
Underwood and the `Jacks, who had their nation-leading 29-game overall win streak ended by fourth-seeded UCLA in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, carries both their home and road winning streaks over into next season. SFA also led the nation with 14 road wins in 2013-14. The `Jacks enter the 2014-15 season tied with Duke for the longest active home winning streak at 33 straight and tied with Wichita State for the longest active road win streak at 12 games.
In his first season, his players also reaped the benefits of his tutelage, as three `Jacks garnered all-league honors with Jacob Parker being tabbed SLC Player of the Year. Parker was later named to two all-district teams (USBWA and NBWA), before being named to the 2013-14 Lou Henson All-American team and finalist for the 2014 Lou Henson award. Also with a focus on team academics, Underwood and SFA placed four `Jacks on the league's all-academic team, the most in program history in a season.
Underwood came to Nacogdoches after an extensive coaching career that included 27 years in the coaching profession, spending his last two as an 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 to 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.
SFA Athletic Director Robert Hill on Underwood's hire: