Underwood ready to help Princeton Day

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.

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."

James Quinn covers high school sports for ESPN RISE's MdVarsity.com