Lou Henson

Year Inducted: 1995

Category: Coaches

Schools / Organizations: The University of Illinois
New Mexico State University
Hardin-Simmons University

Biography: In April 1975, Lou Henson became University of Illinois head coach.  Just before his induction, Henson, completed his 20th season at Illinois, has a 405-210 record during his tenure.  In November, 1990, Henson surpassed Harry Combes (316-150 from 1947-48 to 1966-67) as the winningest basketball coach in University of Illinois history.  In a 33 year head coaching career that started at age 30 in 1962-63 at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, Henson had a 779-422 won-lost record overall.   After rebuilding the Illini program that had bottomed out in the mid-70s, Henson guided the Illini to 12 NCAA tournament appearances in the final 15 seasons.  The highlight of Henson’s career at Illinois occurred in 1989, when the 31-5 Illini reached the Final Four for the first time since 1952 under Combes.  Having also taken New Mexico State to the Final Four in 1970, Henson is one of only 11 coaches to get two schools to the national semi-finals.  He is also one of four coaches to win over 200 games at 2 different institutions.  One of the most beloved coaches in our state’s history, Lou Henson died on July 25, 2020 at the age of 88.