Missouri gets a commit from 6'10 player John Underwood

Seymore Cox

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Who??? A 6'10 post who player from Princeton Prep. No Scouts profile, no Rivals profile.

Underwood ready to help Princeton Day
By James Quinn
Special to ESPNRISE.com
(Archive)

Updated: November 12, 2008, 3:46 PM ET
Comment / Email / Print Princeton Day Academy head coach Van Whitfield was the beneficiary of a very significant transfer when 6-foot-9, 190-pounder John Underwood traveled east.

James Quinn

John Underwood averaged nine blocked shots per game last season.
Underwood was already a highly sought after Division I recruit who blocked more than 200 shots as a junior at Agua Fria High School (Avondale, Ariz.) and is expected to be an impact player for Princeton Day and James Madison University, the college to which he verbally committed.



"I picked James Madison because I really liked the whole atmosphere there with the school, the coaches," Underwood said. "I think the academics are good there and I can play power forward there and they'll help me develop. I also was recruited by UNLV, San Francisco, Nevada, a lot of other schools, but James Madison was a good fit for me all around."



"He can really block shots and he has a nice offensive game, too. He is developing some post moves. He is pretty athletic, he runs the floor well," Whitfield said of Underwood. "He supposedly blocked about nine shots a game as a junior out in Arizona last year."



Whitfield thinks James Madison University may be getting a steal in Underwood.



"Cal State-Fullerton, the Nevada colleges, Oklahoma State was interested. … There were a lot of schools calling about John," Whitfield said. "James Madison came in early. Their coaches stayed interested and did a good job of recruiting him."



The soft-spoken, but engaging Underwood is happy at his new school and is looking forward to his senior season at Princeton Day (located in Lanham, Md.).



"I like it here [at Princeton Day]. I'm working hard on my studies and on improving my game. I think we are going to have a good team here. I'm working on my dribbling and my outside shot. I feel like defense is my strength in my game, but I need to improve my perimeter defense," Underwood said. "I can play interior defense, I blocked 215 shots at Agua Fria last year. They told me that I was second in the country in blocked shots for high school last year -- I averaged about nine blocked shots a game. But I'm working on my perimeter defense and offense. I want to be a power forward in college."

Looks like OSU was interested in filling their question mark scholarship with him. He originally committed to James Madison, but has decided to take the bigger school. He's the 16th ranked prospect in the Capital region.

With Mike Anderson, recruiting a certain caliber of player isn't as important as other coaches. This is a guy right up his ally. Long, lanky, and skinny. He'll probably be a backline goal tender in his press. You never know, this guy could be like Larry Sanders at VCU. Anderson is going to have a hard time replacing Carroll. Carroll did alot of things for that team. Anderson also needs to get younger and more progressive with his staff. He's such a good coach and uses all of his bench to get results. I think Mizzou signs one more because I think Underwood is a replacement for Dewitt who might not get eligible.
 
Rivals still shows him as going to James Madison.
 
http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=19&f=2887

Got it off the Mizzou board. Apparently they had 4 guys come in and 2 committed. I wouldn't be suprised to see them sign one or two more with Dewitt being questionable. I'm suprised Xavier Alexander hasn't been getting any D1 interest. I have heard an OSU rumor, but don't know how true that is. He would have been a good fit at Mizzou.
 
Apparently they had 4 visitors in. I don't know who the other two are, but they have been recruiting a 6'6' Combo Foward JD Weatherspoon who committed to Xavier but is bailing on them and they're in on a guy named Tevin Baskins.

Tevin Baskin, 6-foot-7 senior forward from Trinity (Conn.) Catholic, says he will visit Manhattan in the next week and is also planning several other visits.

“I’m still hearing from Providence. Missouri and Georgia Southern are showing interest,” he wrote in a text. “I’m going to wait it out and see what happens and what offers come in and I’ll make a decision based on where and who I feel comfortable with.”
 
Underwood is one of the best shot blockers in the nation. One article said he was 2nd nationally in blocks as a junior.
 
Underwood is one of the best shot blockers in the nation. One article said he was 2nd nationally in blocks as a junior.

Thanks for the post, and welcome to the board. That is pretty impressive for Underwood.
 
Underwood is one of the best shot blockers in the nation. One article said he was 2nd nationally in blocks as a junior.

That's what it appeared like to me. 40 minutes of Hell is at its best with a shot blocker.
 
That's what it appeared like to me. 40 minutes of Hell is at its best with a shot blocker.

Mike Anderson wants great athletes and 3pt shooters... I don't think he cares where they are rated.
 
Mike Anderson wants great athletes and 3pt shooters... I don't think he cares where they are rated.

his two best players last year were the two highest rated recruits on the team.
 
Mike Anderson wants great athletes and 3pt shooters... I don't think he cares where they are rated.

That's the debate that I'm having with KU fans who laugh at these recruits. All he cares about is getting kenyan type marathon runners with long arms and waterbug guards. He has three waterbug guards in Dixon, Paul, and Denmon. He's suppose to be after Pressey who has a relationship through his father. I think they have failed as far as finding a three point shooter. They only have a couple guys that can fill it up. I think the biggest problem is figuring out where they are going to get their points from. They lose two very consistent scorers.
 
his two best players last year were the two highest rated recruits on the team.

Lyons was a 4th year senior, and Carroll was a 5th year senior. That had a lot to do with it.

Don't be surprised if English, Denmon, and Tiller turn out to be a great guard trio next year..

They have Steve Moore (coming out of redshirt), Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford, John Underwood, and Keith Ramsey in the post.. Bowers, Underwood, and Ramsey are great athletes. Safford can shoot the 3.
 
Denmon and Paul were top 150 guys last year. I think Tiller will be their go to guy and they had some success spreading the court and giving him the ball at times.
 
Don't be surprised if English, Denmon, and Tiller turn out to be a great guard trio next year..

it wouldn't surprise me at all. english and denmon will be the 2 highest rated recruits on their team next year (actually dixon might have ended up higher than denmon, don't recall) and tiller was a decent 3star recruit who'll be a senior.

the point isn't that mu will be a particularly bad team. the point is that that recruit rankings have pretty accurately predicted which of their players will be good (even as the team as a whole overachieved).

the idea that these last-minute, unrated recruits will be much better than expected simply because anderson chose them over the rest of the mediocre players left at this time of the year is a fallacy.
 
it wouldn't surprise me at all. english and denmon will be the 2 highest rated recruits on their team next year (actually dixon might have ended up higher than denmon, don't recall) and tiller was a decent 3star recruit who'll be a senior.

the point isn't that mu will be a particularly bad team. the point is that that recruit rankings have pretty accurately predicted which of their players will be good (even as the team as a whole overachieved).

the idea that these last-minute, unrated recruits will be much better than expected simply because anderson chose them over the rest of the mediocre players left at this time of the year is a fallacy.

I agree with you, and I don't expect to see a whole lot of Underwood or Stone this year. You will see Safford, Ramsey, Bowers, and Moore as the primary rotation.
 
Mizzou Basketball Signs Talented Post Tandem For 2009-10 Season
Stone, Underwood join Keith Dewitt, 2009 Mr. Show-Me Basketball Mike Dixon

May 4, 2009


Columbia, Mo. - Mizzou Basketball Head Coach Mike Anderson bolstered his front court in the 2009 spring signing period, as he announced the signing of 6-foot-9 shot-blocker Jon Underwood (Phoenix, Ariz. / Princeton Day Academy) and 6-foot-7 power forward Tyler Stone (Memphis, Tenn. / Central) to National Letters of Intent on Monday.

Both performers fit Anderson's formula of having winning high school and prep school backgrounds. Underwood led Princeton Day Academy in Lanham, Md., to a 33-3 overall record and a #7 national ranking in the final National Private School Athletic Association (NPSAA) polls, while Stone was an All-City pick in talent-rich Memphis after helping Central High School to a 25-4 overall record.

"I'm excited to welcome both Jon and Tyler to the Missouri Basketball family," Head Coach Mike Anderson said. "We addressed some of our basketball needs with these two young men and we also added two quality individuals to our locker room. They fit what we are looking for with regards to size and athleticism and they join both Mike Dixon and Keith Dewitt to give us another good recruiting class."

A First Team All-American by the NPSAA, Underwood led his team to a pair of national title game appearances by averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots per contest for Head Coach Van Whitfield's club. The athletic 190-pound forward was named to the All-Tournament teams at the National Athletic Christian Association Championships in Dayton, Tenn., and the National Christian School Athletic Association Championships in Erie, Pa. He also earned All-Tournament honors at the Nike iS8 Tournament in New York and at the Crossin Memorial Classic in Plymouth, Pa.

"With Jon, he gives us the ability to block and alter shots," Anderson said. "He's an athletic young man that can rebound and fits what we want to do. Like I say every year, these young guys are just freshmen, but in time we feel they can really develop and help our program."





Prior to his time at Princeton Day, Underwood was one of Arizona High School basketball's elite shot-blockers. As a junior he blocked better than 200 shots at Alhambra High School in Phoenix, Ariz., and produced three triple-doubles (points-blocks-rebounds), two block-rebound double-doubles, three point-block double-doubles and four other point-rebound double-doubles for the Lions.

"Jon came to us with a reputation of being defensive standout and an outstanding shot blocker, but in our first regular-season game he scored 29 points and we realized that his offensive skill set was as strong as his defensive presence," Princeton Day Head Coach Van Whitfield said. "We were one of the top scoring teams in the country and in one game where we scored 125 points, Jon scored 36 points and pulled in 22 rebounds, so I have no doubt that he'll be successful in Missouri's up-tempo style of play. Jon runs the floor with passion and authority and he is a creative, above the rim finisher who will bring Tiger fans out of their seats."

Stone continues Missouri's growing pipeline to the city of Memphis following athletic forward Laurence Bowers (Memphis, Tenn. / St. George's) who electrified Tiger fans with his play as a freshman.

"Tyler comes from a basketball family," Anderson said. "He has good size, strength and aggressiveness. He comes from an area where a lot of players have made an impact around college basketball. We like his instincts and are excited to have him become a Missouri Tiger."

A 6-foot-7, 225-pounder, Stone brings a versatile game after starting two seasons for Head Coach Andre Applewhite at Central High School, where he averaged 15 points and eight rebounds as a senior. An All-City and All-Region selection by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Stone was named the District 16 AAA MVP and is considered a rising standout in the Memphis area after recently turning just 17-years-old.

"He'll fit in perfectly," Applewhite said. "Athletically, he can finish at the rim. He's skilled and can score anywhere from 10-15 feet. He's a blue-collar guy that has a little flash on offense, but he's going to fit Coach Anderson's mold. He'll play the way Coach Anderson wants to play and he'll be able to help their program. Tiger fans can look forward to a lot of highlights with Tyler."

Stone and Underwood join Mike Dixon (Lee's Summit, Mo. / West) and Keith Dewitt (High Point, N.C. / Charis Prep) as signees for the Tigers starting with the 2009-10 season. Dixon was recently named Mr. Basketball in the state of Missouri after averaging 24.2 points, 5.5 assists and 3.1 steals for the Titans.

http://www.mutigers.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/050409aaa.html
 
None of Mizzou's players last season were ranked in the rivals top 100. Only a handful (Tiller, Carroll, Lyons, English and Denmon) were in the top 150. He took a team full of mostly recruiting afterthoughts and won more games than Mizzou had ever won in a single season (more than Norm Stewart ever won with Stipanovich and Sundvold, Doug Smith, Derrick Cheivous, Anthony Peeler, Melvin Booker, etc). That's pretty impressive when you think about it. Our starting point guard last year lost the PG spot on his last team... DELAWARE... but he was a major contributor who hit two game-winning shots for us. Anderson knows what he's looking for.

One of the things Mike Anderson does best is getting guys in positions to utilize the talents they have. Underwood is 6-9+ and under 200 pounds, and his offensive game is "developing." He's not really strong as a rebounder, either. But he's a hell of a shot blocker. You can bet that Anderson will find a way to get him into the game for 5 or 10 minutes as a freshman, and he will make an impact.

Stone is a 17 year old senior who would be a much more sought after recruit were he playing with kids his own age. As it is, though, he's an undersized power forward who most teams didn't recruit because he didn't fit their mold (6-5, 200 pound 4? No thanks...). He's grown a couple inches, worked on his game and now is an apparent perfect fit for the role Carroll filled for two years.

Dewitt and Dixon, as I understand it, both had offers from OU (among several other big programs). They're rated as 3 stars in most places, but that ranking may be too low.

I would not be at all surprised to see Underwood, Stone and Dewitt all play more than Steve Moore this year. He came to Mizzou as a project and played sparingly last year (he did not redshirt). Supposedly he's made huge strides in practice and lost a ton of weight, and he did show some interesting glimpses last year (a 6-9 270 guy who is a good passer and can shoot out to three). But he still hasn't done much more than the incoming recruits at a D1 level.

I would caution everyone against judging any player Mike Anderson signs until you actually see him play.
 
Welcome to the board, Sawyer! :woot

We don't get many Mizzou fans on OUHoops. Hope you'll hang around and continue to take part in our discussions.
 
Dewitt and Dixon, as I understand it, both had offers from OU (among several other big programs). They're rated as 3 stars in most places, but that ranking may be too low.

They may have had offers, but they were 4 or 5 choices down for OU. I agree with you 100%. I caution anyone against judging these kids. Look at a guy like Larry Sanders of VCU who was a nonexistent name three years ago and is now being talked about as possibly a low lottery pick.
 
Players are often categorized as "sleepers" in the recruiting game if they don't have a bundle of stars after their names. It seems Missouri signee Jonathan Underwood has that stigma attached to his name. But don't tell that to Van Whitfield.



Underwood averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks last season.
"I don't have a notion that he wasn't recruited heavily," said Whitfield, who coached Underwood this year at Princeton Day Academy in Lanham, MD. "Let me give you this list of schools: Georgetown, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Nevada. Does that sound like lightly recruited? We had a lot of high Division One programs at our practices and our games."

Underwood started his career in Nevada. He then moved to Avondale, AZ and Agua Fria High School, where he set a state record as a junior, averaging nine blocked shots a game. But the transfer had impacted Underwood's academic status, so he opted to go to Princeton Day to work on his core grades.

"Early on, Creighton, Wyoming, those type of schools had offered, Arizona was looking at him, he just didn't have the right core," said Vernon Holmes, Underwood's AAU coach with the Arizona Dream Team. "Once he went to the prep school he wanted to just go to school."

Underwood got his academics in order, and has already achieved a qualifying score on the SAT. He is now finishing up one final class this summer and will start his college career at Mizzou in the fall.

"Throughout our season, cause we played a high profile schedule, word got out that this team is winning a lot of games and this guy is a focal point," Whitfield said. "Missouri and Coach Watkins, my hat goes off to him and his persistence in maintaining contact, coming out to see him. It made an impact. There was one time we were watching Missouri on ESPN and I swear coach must have called him from the tunnel. We saw the team warming up and he was on the phone. When you work that hard and work that smart, it makes a difference."

The question now for Tiger fans is, exactly what kind of player did Watkins get? While Underwood was apparently no secret to college coaches, he is a virtual unknown to those that follow recruiting. The gaudy blocked shot numbers turn heads for sure, and have earned Underwood a reputation as a defensive stalwart.

"He's a unique type of player," Holmes said. "That's one of the things he could do early on. Some kids have that timing and he's got that timing, got good feet."

But to focus on Underwood's defense does the rest of his game a disservice.

"Our first game was against a school up in Harlem. He had 29 points," Whitfield said. "We said, where's this defense? That was a dominant performance against a top New York City school and from that point forward we saw that his offensive skill set was as polished as his defensive skill set. It's just when you block as many shots as he can block, it changes the flow of the game."

And, ultimately, it was the defense that sold the Tiger coaches on Underwood's ability.

"He went up on the visit to Missouri this past weekend, they really loved him," Holmes said. "They said he had 9 blocked shots in the scrimmage. They said that's all they needed to know."

Underwood averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks a game this season according to Whitfield. And he did it in a system that is a mirror image of what he will run at Mizzou.

"Any player on our roster would be hand delivered to that style of play," Whitfield said.

"I think it's perfect for his game because he's a kid that can run the floor," Holmes agreed. "He's a guy that you want because that kid can get up and down the floor."

A sleeper? If you must. But Whitfield prefers to look at it a different way.

"You hear the term upside used a lot. He surpassed the upside that we first imagined when we first got him," the coach said. "Tiger fans, they got a good one."
:sooner
 
A little more information on Underwood:

Per this free article on rivals ( http://missouri.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=1002&CID=943010 ), he was receiving heavy interest from several big name schools this spring. The writer said on the subscribers board that he did not specifically follow up about offers from those schools, though.

The recruiting services just didn't know about him.

Also, a lot of people (Mizzou fans and fans of other schools) have wondered about the intelligence of handing out an offer to a guy like this at the last minute who they hadn't been recruiting for a long time. In the article I linked, it mentions a Mizzou assistant contacting Underwood minutes before a Mizzou game while he was watching on TV. That shows two things: 1. we have been recruiting him for much longer than anyone knew, and 2. he was not at all an afterthought, but in fact was someone the staff saw as a potential part of the class for quite some time.
 
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