The News-Gazette reported today that legendary Illinois basketball coach Lou Henson passed away over the weekend.
The family wanted to keep the news private over the weekend to avoid large-group gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Henson leaves behind an outstanding legacy that included long, successful coaching stints at both Illinois and New Mexico State.
The man who popularized the orange blazer was the winningest coach in Illini basketball history, amassing a 423-224 record during his 21 seasons in Champaign. Henson led the 1988-89 “Flyin’ Illini” team to the Final Four with a record of 31-5. Illinois made the NCAA Tournament 12 times with Henson at the helm.
In addition to Illinois, Lou Henson is also the winningest coach in school history at his alma mater, New Mexico State. He coached the Aggies from 1966-1975 and 1997-2005, compiling a 289-152 record.
Henson’s legacy lives on, as both Illinois’ and New Mexico State’s home courts are named after the legendary coach.
Additionally, past Illini coaches and current bench boss Brad Underwood have paid tribute to Henson by donning an orange blazer for highly-anticipated games. Fittingly, Lou Henson is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetary in Champaign, which is kitty-corner from the State Farm Center.
Lou Henson is survived by his wife Mary. Rest in peace to an Illinois and college basketball legend.