|Born||January 10, 1932|
|Died||July 25, 2020 (aged 88)|
|1953–1955||New Mexico A&M|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1956–1958||Las Cruces HS (JV)|
|1958–1962||Las Cruces HS|
|1966–1975||New Mexico State|
|1997–2005||New Mexico State|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|1967–1975||New Mexico State|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2× NCAA Regional – Final Four (1970, 1989)|
Big Ten Conference regular season (1984)
Big West Conference regular season (1999)
Big West Tournament (1999)
|Big Ten Coach of the Year (1993)|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2015
Louis Ray Henson (January 10, 1932 – July 25, 2020) was an American college basketball coach. He retired as the all-time leader in victories at the University of Illinois with 423 victories and New Mexico State with 289 victories. Overall Henson won 779 games, putting him in sixteenth place on the all-time list. Henson was also one of only four NCAA coaches to have amassed at least 200 total wins at two institutions. On February 17, 2015, Henson was selected as a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. In August 2015, prior to the reopening of the newly renovated State Farm Center at the University of Illinois, the hardwood floor was dedicated and renamed Lou Henson Court in his honor. The court at the Pan American Center at New Mexico State University is also named in his honor.
Early life and education
Born in Okay, Oklahoma, Henson graduated from Okay High School in 1951 and matriculated at Connors Junior College before transferring to New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State University). He lettered in basketball for the New Mexico A&M Aggies from 1953 to 1955 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1955 and master's degree in 1956.
Henson began his coaching career at Las Cruces High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1956. After two years as junior varsity coach, Henson was head coach of the varsity team from 1958 to 1962 and won state championships in 1959, 1960, and 1961.
He started coaching in the college ranks in 1962 at Hardin-Simmons University. As a condition of taking the Hardin-Simmons job, Henson insisted that the team (and thus the school) be racially integrated, a condition to which the university agreed. In 1966, he took over at his alma mater, New Mexico State University. In his first season at NMSU, the Aggies rebounded from a 4–22 record in the prior season to finish 15–11 and went to the NCAA Tournament. In 1970, Henson would help lead the Aggies to the Final Four for the only time in the school's history. Henson and future NBA players Jimmy Collins, Sam Lacey, and Charlie Criss lost in the tournament semifinal to eventual champion UCLA, the third time in three years the Aggies lost to UCLA in the tournament. Henson coached at New Mexico State for nine seasons, with six trips to the NCAA Tournament and four twenty-win seasons.
In 1975, Henson moved to the University of Illinois to replace Gene Bartow, after Bartow left Illinois to replace John Wooden at UCLA. In 21 years at Illinois, Henson garnered 423 wins and 224 losses (.654 winning percentage), and with a record of 214 wins and 164 losses (.567) in Big Ten Conference games. The 214 wins in Big Ten games were the third highest total ever at the time of his retirement. His best Fighting Illini team was the 1988-89 unit, which won a then-school record 31 games and went to the Final Four. At Illinois, Henson coached many future NBA players, including Eddie Johnson, Derek Harper, Ken Norman, Nick Anderson, Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle, Marcus Liberty, Steve Bardo, and Kiwane Garris, and was known for his trademark Lou-Do. Henson retired from Illinois at the end of the 1996-1997 season.
In 1997, Henson returned to New Mexico State as interim head coach after Neil McCarthy was abruptly fired before the start of the season. Henson wanted to donate his time, but was told that state law didn't allow him to coach for free. He finally accepted a nominal salary of $1 per month. After a successful season, he was given his old job back on a permanent basis. His 1998–99 team won the Big West regular season and tournament titles—notably, the first time in Henson's career that he had won a conference tournament. He retired for good midway through the 2004–05 season due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His second stint allowed him to regain his standing as New Mexico State's all-time winningest coach, passing McCarthy.
In July 2007, Henson announced that he was again undergoing chemotherapy for the same strain of lymphoma that he had battled four years previously. He was undergoing treatment in Champaign, Illinois, where he lived in the summer. In July 2015, Henson once again entered chemotherapy for "bone marrow problems."
Henson died on July 25, 2020 at the age of 88.
Head coaching record
|Hardin–Simmons Cowboys (NCAA University Division independent) (1962–1966)|
|New Mexico State Aggies (NCAA University Division independent) (1966–1970)|
|1966–67||New Mexico State||15–11|
|1967–68||New Mexico State||23–6||NCAA University Division Regional Semifinal|
|1968–69||New Mexico State||24–5||NCAA University Division Regional Quarterfinal|
|1969–70||New Mexico State||27–3||NCAA University Division Final Four|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Missouri Valley Conference) (1970–1975)|
|1970–71||New Mexico State||19–8||0–0‡||NCAA University Division Regional Quarterfinal|
|1971–72||New Mexico State||19–6||0–0‡|
|1972–73||New Mexico State||12–14||6–7||T–4th|
|1973–74||New Mexico State||14–11||7–6||T–3rd|
|1974–75||New Mexico State||20–7||11–3||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|New Mexico State:||173–71||24–16|
|Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (1975–1996)|
|1979–80||Illinois||22–13||8–10||T–6th||NIT Third Place|
|1980–81||Illinois||21–8||12–6||3rd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1981–82||Illinois||18–11||10–8||6th||NIT Second Round|
|1982–83||Illinois||21–11||11–7||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 48|
|1983–84||Illinois||26–5||15–3||T–1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|1984–85||Illinois||26–9||12–6||2nd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1985–86||Illinois||22–10||11–7||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1986–87||Illinois||23–8||13–5||4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|1987–88||Illinois||23–10||12–6||T–3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1988–89||Illinois||31–5||14–4||2nd||NCAA Division I Final Four|
|1989–90||Illinois||21–8||11–7||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|1992–93||Illinois||19–13||11–7||T–3rd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|1993–94||Illinois||17–11||10–8||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|1994–95||Illinois||19–12||10–8||T–5th||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|1995–96||Illinois||18–13||7–11||9th||NIT First Round|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Big West Conference) (1997–2000)|
|1997–98||New Mexico State||18–12||8–8*||T–7th|
|1998–99||New Mexico State||23–10||12–4||1st||NCAA Round of 64|
|1999–00||New Mexico State||22–10||11–5||7th||NIT First Round|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Sun Belt Conference) (2000–2005)|
|2000–01||New Mexico State||14–14||10–6||T–2nd (West)|
|2001–02||New Mexico State||20–12||11–4||T–1st (West)|
|2002–03||New Mexico State||20–9||9–6||2nd(West)|
|2003–04||New Mexico State||13–14||6–9||T–4th (West)|
|2004–05||New Mexico State||5–13†||1–4†||†(West)|
|New Mexico State:||135–86||66–46|
Postseason invitational champion
‡ New Mexico State ineligible for conference championship
* Record vacated due to NCAA infractions
† Henson resigned on January 22, 2005 and was replaced that day by interim head coach Tony Stubblefield; their collective record in the 2004–05 season was 6–24 (1–14 Sun Belt) for a sixth-place finish in the Sun Belt West division.
- List of college men's basketball coaches with 600 wins
- List of NCAA Division I Men's Final Four appearances by coach
- Lou Henson Award
- "Henson headed to College Basketball Hall of Fame". New Mexico State DIA. 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- "Coach Lou Henson Selected to National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame". University of Illinois DIA. 2015-02-17. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- "Lou Henson". New Mexico State University. 2004. Archived from the original on September 30, 2016.
- Whalen, James D. (2005), Porter, David L. (ed.), "Henson, Louis Ray "Lou"", Basketball: A Biographical Dictionary, Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, pp. 206–207
- Tate, Loren (2010-02-17). "Tate: Henson helped break basketball color barrier". The News-Gazette. Champaign, Ill. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- Supinie, John (2012-01-10). "Supinie: What does Lou have to do to get into the Hall?". Journal Star. Peoria, Ill. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- "Ex-NMSU, Illinois coach Henson back in chemotherapy". CBS Sportsline. Associated Press. 25 July 2007.
- "Lou Henson to coach House team in charity hoops game". Santa Fe New Mexican. February 3, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- "Lou Henson, winningest men's basketball coach at Illinois, New Mexico State, dies". ESPN.com. 2020-07-29. Retrieved 2020-07-29.