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Illinois Basketball 2019-20 Player Review: Tyler Underwood

The senior guard made an impact on and off the court.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Underwood’s son, Tyler, was the only player that came over to Illinois when Josh Whitman hired the new Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball coach on March 18, 2017.

While Tyler may not have broken any records at Illinois, he had memorable moments on the court and may be poised to follow in his father’s footsteps one day.

Impact on the Illini

Underwood’s numbers were down this season from a year ago. In 2018-19, he played in 18 games and averaged around four minutes per game. You might remember a bit of frustration shown by fans on Twitter, in particular, wondering why the coach’s son was getting playing time at the Maui Invitational and early on in the conference season, when wins were not coming easily.

This season, Underwood played in 15 games, averaging around three minutes per game. While his on-the-court efforts were mostly in relief of the starting guards or towards the end of games, Underwood certainly did have his moments where he was able to shine.

On Senior Night, Underwood got his only start of the year, and had a beautiful feed to big man Kofi Cockburn for the first bucket of the game.

Aside from his occasional appearances in relief of Ayo, Trent and Andres, Tyler clearly had a good knowledge of the game of basketball. This was particularly noticeable on the defensive side of the ball, where praise is often harder to come by. And no doubt, his father was extremely proud of all the work he put in.

Tyler’s Best Game

While stat-stuffing was not Tyler’s specialty, he had six points, including a three-pointer, in the game against Hampton on Nov. 11, 2019. (Skip to 2:57 in the video below. Man, that was pure.) If you continue watching, you will see a nice lob to Samson Oladimeji, too. This was perhaps his best statistical game, but he also showed in the game versus Iowa on March 8 that he is a capable passer.

The Quick and Dirty

While doing some digging on Twitter, I found a really interesting interview from early April between Coach Underwood and reporter Jeff Goodman. Underwood discussed his relationship with Tyler, and noted specifically that he thinks his son will likely end up coaching one day.

Wouldn’t that be fitting? Although Tyler is not the Illini player we will remember for dropping 30 points on Michigan or sealing a win against Iowa, it’s clear that he brought experience and knowledge to the Fighting Illini these past few years. Perhaps one day he’ll be on a coaching staff opposite his father in a Big Ten game.