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WEST ALABAMA HEROES: Sandy Underwood is UWA’s iron man

West Alabama's Sandy Underwood is averaging 35.5 minutes per game and is averaging 21.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. (Photo by UWA photo)

LIVINGSTON | Sandy Underwood is quickly becoming the University of West Alabama’s iron man on the basketball court.

In six games this season, Underwood is averaging 35.5 minutes per game.

Since moving into the starting lineup against Selma on Nov. 14, he has played 186 of a possible 200 minutes for the Tigers. He played all 40 minutes against Tennessee Wesleyan on Nov. 21.

He credits his endurance to the Tigers’ offseason conditioning program.

"Before the season, we had a workout plan that got us in shape for the season," Underwood said. "We ran every day, and it kept me in shape. So it really doesn’t affect me playing that number of minutes each game.

"The workout program and conditioning was tough. One day, we pushed 45-pound weights up and down the whole football field on our hands and knees. We did a lot of running. We ran hills and suicides."

Underwood came off the bench in the opener against Alabama and recorded nine points, three assists and one rebound in 27 minutes. He moved into the starting role against Selma on Nov. 14 and has averaged 24 points and nine rebounds per game in five starts for UWA.

"Things have gone very well," he said of his fast start with the Tigers.

"The flow of the game comes naturally to me, and I try to get my teammates involved in the flow of the game as well. They make it easy for me to score and try to stay out of bad situations on the floor.

"I think I attack the basket really well. I am always in an attack mode. I am always looking to shoot the basketball and score. I am not a selfish player. I just try and fill my role on this team."

After averaging 28 points per game as a senior at Bibb County High School, Underwood began his career at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. After one season, he transferred to Snead State in Boaz, where he said he learned a great deal about basketball from coach Rodney Hanson.

"That was a good move for me," Underwood said. "Coach Hanson taught me a lot about the game of basketball. He made me a much better player and helped me sign with West Alabama. He did a lot for me."

Underwood said one of his main goals this season was to become a better rebounder.

"I did not rebound well last year at Snead," he admitted. "So coming into this season, one of the things we talked about was working on my rebounding. As of right now, I am averaging almost eight rebounds per game.

"I work hard every day on rebounding and, hopefully, those numbers will improve. It all goes back to attacking the best. Coach tells us to follow our shots and hit the boards.

Underwood is averaging 21.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season. He averaged only 5.5 rebounds per game last year at Snead State.

On Monday, he was voted the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week after he averaged 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in wins over Barry University and Stillman College.

Underwood said his faith and his family also keep him going.

"Some people told me it would be a tough transition from junior college to West Alabama," he said. "With God, I can accomplish anything, and so far things are going really well. I also like spending all my free time with my son, Jayden."

And he still finds the time to be the Tigers’ iron man on the hardwood.


The Sandy Underwood file

West Alabama: Played in all six games and earned five starts in his first season with the Tigers. ... Averaging 21.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. ... Scored 20 or more points in four games. ... Averages 35.5 minutes per game. ... Voted Gulf South Conference Player of the Week on Monday after he averaged 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in wins over Barry and Stillman. .,. Posted second double-double of the season against Barry with 26 points (13 of 14 on free throws) and 10 rebounds last Saturday. ... Had 28 points and nine rebounds in win at Shorter on Thursday. Posted first career double-double against Tennessee Wesleyan (24 points, 12 rebounds) on Nov.21.

Snead State: Played one season at Snead State Community College. ... Averaged 17.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 13 starts.

Aquinas College: Played one season at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. ... Played in all 26 games and earned five starts. ... Averaged 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for the Saints.

Bibb County High School: A four-year starter for coach Jerry Martin. ... Three-year captain. ... All-state, all-area and co-MVP of 2009 Class 4A Region 7 championship game. ... MVP of 2010 Class 4A Region 7 championship game. ... Averaged 28.9 points as a senior.