VIDEO: Illinois Coach Brad Underwood Zoom Media Conference (Aug. 3, 2020)

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Following the return announcements of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, Illinois head men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood addressed local and statewide media Monday afternoon.

“We said many times when we came to Illinois that we were going to recruit pros and guys who had next-level opportunities," Underwood said. "Both of the young men are going to play in that league and both of them are going to have opportunities; the time has to be right to go do that. Along the way, our program has continued to take steps in regards to those two. They’ve been instrumental in that."

Watch the full 60-minute interview session in the above video.

On Jan. 11, 2019, Underwood woke up the head coach of a team with an embarrassing 4-12 record and an unacceptable overall record of 18-30. Just 570 days later, Underwood is now in control of a team likely to be ranked in the preseason Top 15 for the first time in a decade.

“(The expectations) won’t bother me and I’m going to make sure it won’t bother our guys," Underwood said Monday. "I think the one thing that happens is you’ve got to tune out all the outside noise and I like guys who have a little brazen attitude and a little swagger about them, and to me that’s important.”

With four starters returning from last year’s team that assuredly would’ve ended the program’s seven-year NCAA tournament drought, Underwood acknowledged this is without question his most talented roster as a head coach. Mix in two Top 50 recruits on the perimeter (Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo) and this is easily considered the most talented and deepest Illini roster in 15 years.

Underwood said he and his staff had plotted out initial lineups and roster manipulations for all four scenarios: 1) Without Ayo; 2) Without Kofi; 3) Without Both; 4) With Both. The Illini’s fourth-year head coach joked Monday that door number four was easily the most appealing. 

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