One year later: Remembering Lou Henson


(WCIA) — On July 25, 2020 Lou Henson passed away at 88 years old. One year after his passing, his memory still lives on in the hearts of Illini nation.

Henson’s career at Illinois spanned 21 years, leading him to become the program’s all-time winningest coach, with 423 wins. Henson’s longtime assistant coach Jimmy Collins passed away on December 13, 2020, just months after Henson did. Their careers were highlighted by a trip to the Final Four in 1989, which is one of great successes of the Hall of Fame coach.

“I think of coach all the time,” said former Illini Kendall Gill. “I think of his wife Mary, who was like a mom to all of us, coach Collins as well. But they would say you have to keep carrying on. That’s the men that they were, and I’m just proud that I had them in my life.”

“Always thinking about him, the fun we had, the memories never die,” said former Illini Kenny Battle. “They left a legacy of memories, and I’m just glad to have an opportunity to cherish those memories for a lifetime.”

“I like to do my little impressions, ‘hey Nick, you’re a fat boy, you’re outta shape.’ He stayed on me, but he stayed on my for good reasons because coach seen something in myself that I probably didn’t see in myself,” says former Illini Nick Anderson. “So I’m grateful, and it was an honor to play under coach Henson, and his legacy, and what he brought to the game.”

In Henson’s career with the Orange and Blue, he made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances. In December 2015, the playing floor at State Farm Center was officially dedicated as Lou Henson Court.

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