July 20, 2024

Call it an overreaction. Bradley Cole Underwood might go down as the founding father of a great basketball empire in Champaign. A tenure that started slow and with results arguably worse than his predecessor has outgrown and built upon it.

Just under two months ago, Brad Underwood, as he’s more commonly known, was speaking to the media to discuss the signing of Croatian big man Tomislav Ivisic. In the same breath that he touched on the skillset of his new 7-foot-1 Eastern European giant, he mentioned an NBA team that he seems to be drawing inspiration from while gearing up for the next season.

Despite his size, Ivisic has little to no trouble spacing the floor. He’s shown himself to be a capable scorer at all three levels.

“I like the versatility of that. It’s kind of a Minnesota Timberwolves-type lineup with spacing, and they each give us a little bit of something different on the defensive side,” Underwood said.

TCR can’t confirm if Brad Underwood had a time machine that told him where Terrence Shannon Jr. would be drafted, but we can confirm that in last week’s first round of the NBA Draft, TSJ was drafted 27th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Carey [Booth]’s an elite shot blocker. Ben [Humrichous] is a possible positional guy who can guard multiple positions because he’s got great feet. Tomislav’s a guy that’s a proven rim protector and rebounder, and it gives us something different as well,” Underwood said. “I love the versatility of our front court.”

State Farm Center won’t host Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Naz Reid next year, but the blueprint is there.

It’s not just on the defensive side of the ball, though — Underwood seems to be building an offensive system that creates pro-ready players. That became clearer when TCR spoke to SBNation basketball editor Ricky O’Donnell before this year’s draft to discuss Terrence Shannon Jr.’s draft stock.

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