CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois assistant coach Geoff Alexander still remembers making the trip from his hometown of Lincoln to Champaign with his dad, Neil, to go to Lou Henson’s summer basketball camps. Neil was working for Henson, Geoff was a camper. Now several decades later, Geoff is getting his shot to coach on Lou Henson Court and for the team he grew up rooting for and watching. Eight months into his first Power 5 assistant coaching job, Alexander is still thankful for the opportunity.
“To get to do it here and with all of our guys and our entire staff, it’s a blessing,” Geoff Alexander said. “I’ve been a part of a team ever since I was born, growing up being in a gym when I was four or five years old.”
After four years with the Illini, Geoff was promoted from a support staff role to full-time assistant coach on Brad Underwood’s staff in May. After spending more than 20 years in the business, Alexander is loving every minute of his new role with the Illini and it all started with his Hall of Fame father Neil, the longtime Lincoln coach who has won nearly 900 career games, second on the IHSA all-time list.
“He’s had a huge impact, just my core values of being a coach and I’ve always had what he gave to me as an early coach and early guy that wanted to do this,” Geoff Alexander said. “I appreciate everything he’s done for me, I use it today and moving forward.”
A lifelong Illini fan, Neil comes to as many games as his schedule allows. Coaching is truly in the Alexander blood, with three generations active on the sidelines.
“I don’t know what it is but it seems to be something we enjoy doing,” Neil Alexander said. “We love the game.”
And when it involves working for the team you grew up watching, it’s a win for the entire family.
“We’ve always been Illinois fans and always gone to games and enjoyed the games and watched them on TV and been a big part of it,” Neil Alexander said.