College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

Main Henson fro

Lou Henson, UI basketball coach from 1975 to 1996

Listen to this article

Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning until practice tips off.

Lou Henson was inducted into a third hall of fame in five years earlier this week, with the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame the latest to honor the former Illinois men’s basketball coach.

Former Illini guard TJ Wheeler calls Henson the face of Illinois basketball.

“Coach made his mark early at Illinois,” said Wheeler, who played for Henson from 1990-94. “He made the orange blazer famous. He started the Orange Krush. I always tell people when you think of Illinois basketball, you think of Coach Henson.”

Henson has dealt with a myriad of health issues for a decade-plus. But he was in Norman, Okla., this week to accept his latest hall of fame accolade. Just like he was on stage at State Farm Center when he was inducted into the Illinois Hall of Fame last September. And just like when he made the trip to Kansas City, Mo., when he was inducted in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Not to mention the occasional trip to State Farm Center to catch the Illini in action. On Lou Henson Court, no less.

ONLINE EXTRA: Ask our beat writer about the Illini by clicking here

“What an unbelievable fighter,” Wheeler said. “He stressed that 30 years ago when I was a freshman walking in about being tough, and he’s walking it every day right now. He wanted you to be tough. He wanted you to be a fighter. I think that’s why you saw so many of his teams be successful because we defended. You see everything coach has battled the last 10-plus years of his life. Coach is one of the toughest fighters.”

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).