Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Frazier the Perfect Fit for Underwood, Illinois | sports

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The same was true for Frazier’s knowledge of what the program means both on the micro level to the fan base and more macro level in the grand scheme of all things college basketball. A little unfinished business from his four seasons at Illinois didn’t hurt either as he considered his next career move.

Frazier the right fit for Underwood, Illinois | Sports It’s a story the 35-year-old shares with people all the time.

The sell for Frazier as he considered jumping from the Hokies to the Illini was more about getting to know Underwood. Frazier had every intention to return for another season at Virginia Tech before Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman leaving Illinois for Kentucky created a path back home, as it were. Good dude to work for and good coach. Wouldn’t micromanage and lets his assistants coach.

That mean Frazier had to do what he called his “due diligence” and find out more about Underwood. The consensus was the same. “I didn’t win a Big Ten championship when I was here, and that haunts me, man, because I know I sacrificed a lot to play at the University of Illinois,” Frazier said Tuesday afternoon in his first public comments after Illinois coach Brad Underwood hired him as his newest assistant coach last Thursday. “I played hard every night, and that includes practice. A lot of times I played hurt, but I didn’t win a Big Ten championship. I have two Big 12 championships and an Elite Eight run at Kansas State, but nothing would make me happier than winning a Big Ten championship at Illinois.”

“It was hard to say ‘no,’” Frazier said. “All he had to sell me on was him, and not really sell. I just had to get to know him a little bit better and build that relationship and start to build that trust. Everything else about this place I love. I love this place. I love this town. This is where I went to school. This is where I met my wife. This place is special.” Underwood watched Frazier’s rise up the coaching ranks from Kansas State to Virginia Tech — where he quickly became Mike Young’s associate head coach — and saw him put in work in recruiting, too, as their paths crossed at various events.

Frazier’s fit back at Illinois on Underwood’s coaching staff only became more obvious as Underwood got to know more about him. Frazier the player — a focus on defense, loads of aggressiveness and passion — would have been a good fit for Underwood, too. Underwood knew a little bit more about Frazier before the two first spoke about the opening on the Illinois staff. Frazier spending seven seasons coaching for Bruce Weber at Kansas State put him on Underwood’s radar simply because that’s Underwood’s alma mater.

Underwood referenced a rather memorable moment from Frazier’s Illinois career to emphasize that point. Underwood knew a little bit more about Frazier before the two first spoke about the opening on the Illinois staff. Frazier spending seven seasons coaching for Bruce Weber at Kansas State put him on Underwood’s radar simply because that’s Underwood’s alma mater.

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