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‘Good luck beating us’: Ubben renovations add to thriving Illini program

This state-of-the-art facility will blow your mind.

The renovated Ubben Complex features a spotless new basketball court.
Ethan Holesha | TCR

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In a week full of football news and expectations, Illinois basketball is right in the middle of it all.

On Thursday afternoon, AD Josh Whitman took the media on a tour of the newly renovated Ubben Basketball Complex. The university’s newest facility opens up different possibilities for both basketball programs, and Whitman gave a full look into what it’ll entail.

Let’s dive in.

New Level of Training

With a new $40 million renovation, this building — established in the late 1990s — is completely revolutionized from its original format.

The changes can be seen by the sheer difference in size from the original: a 38,000-square foot increase — nearly doubling in size.

Whitman is especially proud of this new development, and he discussed during his tour how important the expansions of the locker, training, and weight rooms are to the programs.

Each one is at least TRIPLE the size it was before, allowing both basketball teams to workout in the same places at the same time.

“It allows us to be much more efficient when we schedule the space,” Whitman said. “It helps with culture and cohesion throughout the teams.”

The basketball courts have grown in size as well. The two biggest changes have been the space and the storage, with the teams no longer needing to worry about hazardous equipment lying around the court.

Ethan Holesha | TCR

A big part for women’s basketball head coach Shauna Green is the extension of the four side hoops.

“Side baskets give us a chance to get four individual workouts in,” Green said. “It’s a game-changer.”

The level of training will now reach an all-time high, and men’s coach Brad Underwood can’t be more excited about these new upgrades.

“You come to Illinois, we’re gonna help you get better,” Underwood said. “And you can do that in this facility.”

Recovery Spaces

New sports medicine spaces are being developed around the world, and Ubben is following suit.

This new space at Ubben will not only have the traditional tables and treatment areas, but also include a hydrotherapy space equipped with a hot tub, a cold plunge and an underwater treadmill.

Ethan Holesha | TCR

The recovery lounge is another injury rehab space that is still in the works, with planned features such as infrared saunas.

“This space will differentiate our facility from other facilities across the country,” Whitman said.

In terms of providing the technology and science for their student-athletes to recover as efficiently as possible, Whitman and his head coaches believe there’s nothing more important.

“We talk about development all the time,” Underwood said. “Our motto is work hard, recover harder.”

Recruiting Magnet

For years, Illinois basketball recruiting was at an all-time low, and the teams struggled accordingly.

Coming to Illinois, Underwood knew the culture needed to change, but not just with the people in the program. The facilities needed to take that step up, too.

“It was hard,” Underwood said. “We weren’t winning and we didn’t have anything sexy in terms of facilities.”

In the old building, recruitment visits avoided areas like the locker room and training room out of embarrassment. Now, it’s something that they can be proud of.

“There’s nothing better in the country than what we’re going to have here,” Underwood said.

In the past few years, the recruiting numbers for the Illini men’s team have shot up regardless of the problems with the old facility. Now, these renovations will only add more to the sales pitch.

As for the upcoming future, Whitman, Underwood and Green have all gained new levels of confidence.

“Now, it’s pretty good,” Underwood said. “Good luck beating us.”