January 27, 2011

Sweets Underwood: A Great Example

 

Jan. 27, 2011

Sweets Underwood has faced many tragic situations in her life, including the death of both her parents, but she has managed to embrace the losses and use them as tools for motivation. Through hard work, dedication and passion for the game of basketball, she has earned the opportunity to live out her dream.

"Do it for your mom. Do it for your dad and obviously do it for yourself," said Underwood, in an inspirational tone.

Underwood lost her mother to cancer, her father to a heart attack and a cousin to murder at a young age forcing her to move in with her aunt. However, that did not stop her from having a standout high school basketball career at Compton Centennial High School and earning a scholarship to UCSB.

"The deaths in my family are my motivation," Underwood said. Underwood began her athletic career running middle distance races on her high school track team, but her obvious physical gifts eventually led her to the basketball court.

The process of switching from the track to the hardwood was a struggle for Underwood as she initially lacked the coordination and ball skills needed to flourish in basketball. With an athletic frame and nimble feet, Underwood undertook the challenge of learning the game of basketball and within a short amount of time she began to come into her own.

"When I started playing basketball I was horrible," she recalled. "I could barely catch a ball. There were times when I wanted to give up and go back to track."

But she didn't. Underwood stuck to her plan through thick and thin, all the while using her past as motivation.

"Hours after hours, day after day, I would stay in the gym consistently working on the things that will make me a better player," she said.

Her dedication and hard work in high school gave her the opportunity to choose from a variety of colleges. However, her plan was to play at UCSB while simultaneously receiving an outstanding education at a prestigious university that was surrounded by beaches.

"I amazed myself, and realized that if I could do that (make significant progress in basketball) in a month's time, what could I do in a year from now, therefore I stuck with basketball," Underwood said.

Underwood was a three-year varsity letter winner at Compton's Centennial High, averaging 19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals per game as a senior.

Sweets earned her nickname because of her "sweet feet," and in her two seasons at UCSB, those feet have helped her display her talents on the court.

As a freshman, she was one of just five players on the team to see action in all 32 games and she was named to the Big West All-Freshmen Team after averaging 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. This year, Underwood is averaging 9.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while shooting 56.5% from the field. Underwood puts on a performance each game, showing off her special talents and utilizing the skills she cultivated spending countless hours in the gym.

"She is incredibly efficient with her ability to score and get rebounds," said UCSB head coach Lindsay Gottlieb in reference to Underwood's basketball skills. Regarding her forward as a person, she was even more effusive.

"She is special on and off the court," Gottlieb said. "Since the first time I saw her, I knew I wanted her to be a part of this program. She has been a great addition to Gaucho Athletics. Sweets is an incredible young person and she'll go far."

Underwood's goals are simple. She wants to win.

"My goal for the team is to play as a unit and get our Big West Championship crown back," she declared. "And I want to continue playing a role in our success."

After college, Underwood would like to continue playing basketball professionally, either overseas or in the WNBA, and with her work ethic it's a pretty good bet she will make it.

1. What is the perfect meal to eat for you?
All Mexican food.

2. If you were on a deserted island and could only bring three things what would they be?
My Bible, iPod and soap.

3. What is the favorite class you've taken at UCSB?
Any class in the Women's Studies Department.

4. Who are your favorite professors?
Laury Oaks and Otis Madison.

5. What is the best part about waking up in Santa Barbara every day?
The view of the beach outside.

6. Where is your favorite place to play basketball?
The Thunderdome.

7. What is your favorite television show?
The Cosby Show, Def Poetry Jam and Full House.

8. Where is your favorite place to study?
Anywhere but the library.

9. What is your favorite thing to do on an off day?
Relax, kick up my feet and catch up on some schoolwork.

10. Do you have any role models?
My high school coach- Derrick Florence.

11. If you could have a super power, what would it be? What would you use for?
Invisibility so I could be around people without being seen and listen to their conversations.

12. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Shower and nap before a game.

13. Where is your favorite place to eat in Isla Vista?
Freebirds and Woodstocks Pizza.

14. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It would still be somewhere in California.

15. What was the last song you uploaded to your iPod?
Jessy J.

16. What is your favorite sport to watch other than basketball?
Volleyball or track and field.

17. I've always wanted to...?
Go to Jamaica.

18. What is one thing about you that most people do not know...until now?
That my real name is not Sweets.

19. Is there a motto that you live by?
Let go and let God.

20. In one word, how would you describe UCSB women's basketball?
Determined.