Lumberjack head man participating in a pair of major events
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
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 third season at the helm of the Lumberjack men's basketball team. Underwood has the `Jacks coming off of its second-straight NCAA Tournament Appearance and has etched his name in the NCAA record books with the most wins through two seasons as a head coach (61-8).
Underwood put SFA on the national map with the upset of fifth-seeded VCU in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and under his guidance, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
SFA earned a 12-seed at the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, earning a second-round matchup with fifth-seeded Utah. The `Jacks were within two points inside the final minute, but ultimately fell to the Pac-12 school, 57-50.
For the second-straight season, Underwood was named the Southland Coach of the Year, NABC District 23 Coach of the Year and recognized as a Hugh Durham award finalist. Then-junior Thomas Walkup earned honorable mention All-America honors for the Lumberjacks, and was the Southland Conference Player of the Year- the second-consecutive year under Underwood that a SFA student-athlete received the award.
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.
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.
A Kansas State graduate, 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.
During his first season as an assistant (2007-08), Underwood helped guide the Wildcats to a 21-12 record and third-place finish in the Big 12 with a mark of 10-6 in league contests, marking the program's best finish since the inception of the league. The squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament, earning its first NCAA Tournament victory since the 1988 campaign.
Kansas State earned an at-large bid to the NIT during the 2008-09 campaign, and the 2009-10 team followed with one of the best seasons in program history, compiling a school-record 29 wins, en route to an Elite Eight appearance. The Wildcats defeated six ranked opponents that season, and concluded the year ranked in the Top 10 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll (No. 7) and the Associated Press Top 25 Poll (No. 7).
Kansas State advanced to the third round in the NCAA Tournament during the 2010-11 season, putting up a 23-11 record, including a 10-6 mark in league play to finish third in the Big 12. Underwood received much acclaim during the 2010-11 season, as Martin took his suggestion of adjusting the offensive scheme in early January. The result saw KSU rally, posting nine wins in its last 11 regular-season games to earn the school's fifth-consecutive 20-win season.
The 2011-12 campaign saw Kansas State once again advance to the NCAA Tournament third round, concluding the season with a 22-11 overall record. The Wildcats posted a 10-8 mark in Big 12 play to finish fifth, which made Kansas State and cross-state rival Kansas as the only Big 12 schools to receive a bye into the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in each of the last six seasons, with Underwood part of the KSU staff each time.
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.
Underwood earned his bachelor's degree in radio and television communications from Kansas State in 1986, where he was a two-year letterman for the Wildcats (1984-86). A native of McPherson, Kan., he and his wife, Susan, have one son, Tyler, and two daughters, Katie and Ashley.
SFA Athletic Director Robert Hill on Underwood's hire: