CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood still remembers coming to then Assembly Hall in the early 1990’s as an assistant coach at Western Illinois. He was there scouting some of the best players in the state, or at least that was his goal. There was just one problem, he couldn’t get a ticket. The session was sold out. It made it tough to get in but now nearly three decades later, the state’s biggest high school tournament is playing on the court he coaches on. Having the state’s best players suiting up on Lou Henson Court is no doubt recruiting win for Underwood.
“Will this benefit men’s basketball? Absolutely,” Underwood said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I’m so excited that kids get to have the dream of playing in this basketball tournament realized and to be able to step foot on the court and have that experience means a great deal.”
The IHSA accepted a three-year bid to play its boys’ tournament at State Farm Center but executive director Craig Anderson doesn’t see it leaving town anytime soon. The Board of Directors doesn’t have to open it up for a re-bid after three years.
“We wouldn’t bring it here to say that we’re only going to stay three years and look to move it some place else,” Anderson said. “We’re looking for a long time, much like we did in Peoria. There’s nothing that would cause us to have to put it out for bid after three years.”