In celebrating the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s and Title IX’s 50th Anniversary, the IBCA had media and coaches select the 30 most impactful people in Men's Basketball and the 30 most impactful people in Women's basketball during the last 50 years. We will be highlighting in alphabetical order one person a week from each category who our state selected for the Top 30 over the next 30 weeks, beginning on Thursday, January 20th.
Week Fifteen (4/28/22)
University of Illinois
The winningest coach in University of Illinois basketball history is Lou Henson. After establishing winning seasons at Hardin-Simmons University and New Mexico State University, Coach Henson took on a new challenge, turn the struggling basketball program around for the “Fighting Illini”. He arrived on the U. of I. campus in the spring of 1975 and with a great work ethic Coach Henson began to make the Illini into consistent winners and established a program our state was proud of. In Henson’s 21 seasons at the helm his teams had a 423 -224 record. They won 20 plus games eleven times, reached the NCAA twelve times, the Sweet 16 four times and the Elite Eight twice. Coach Henson’s best season at the University of Illinois was his 1988-89 “Flying Illini” Team. They went 31-5, but lost a heart breaker in the Final Four. Coach Henson who never wavered in his positive demeanor passed away in 2020 at the age of 88.
East St. Louis Lincoln High School/UCLA/Olympics
Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been called the greatest female athlete of all-time by Sports Illustrated. Jackie starred in basketball and track at East St. Louis Lincoln high School. During her senior season she led her undefeated team to the IHSA Class AA State Championship with a 64-47 win over Chicago Marshall. Jackie accepted a scholarship to UCLA to participate in both sports. She scored 1,167 points for the Bruins and started all four-seasons. In 1985 she led UCLA to the NCAA Tournament. Jackie still ranks among the top all-time scorers at UCLA. Her track exploits in Olympic history are world renown. Among her track accomplishments are 3 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals. You may remember seeing her picture on the cover of the Wheaties cereal box.