CHAMPAIGN, ILL.-The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Thursday that four former Fighting Illini basketball coaches will be permanently recognized at the Assembly Hall through the creation of the Honored Coaches program. Banners for Lou Henson, Harry Combes, Doug Mills and Ralph Jones will be displayed from the rafters, hanging alongside the Honored Jerseys that feature 30 all-time great Illini players.
"It is important to recognize the great coaches who have helped form the strong tradition of Fighting Illini basketball," director of athletics Mike Thomas said. "Coaches Henson, Combes, Mills and Jones led Illinois to many of the greatest seasons in school history and it is fitting to recognize them permanently at the Assembly Hall."
Basketball mentors selected as Honored Coaches must have achieved all of the following criteria: 1) minimum career winning percentage at Illinois of .650; 2) Big Ten championship or NCAA Final Four appearance; 3) minimum of eight years as head coach at Illinois,which covers two four-year class cycles of student-athletes; 4) non-active coach.
Lou Henson will participate in a banner raising at the Assembly Hall during halftime of the Ohio State game on Jan. 10, which also is the date of his 80th birthday. The banner for Harry Combes will be unveiled prior to the Wisconsin game on Jan. 22, and the Doug Mills and Ralph Jones banners will go up during a pregame ceremonyversus Northwestern on Feb. 5.
Henson is the winningest coach in school history, amassing 423 victories during his 21 seasons in Champaign from 1976-96. He ranks fourth in Big Ten history in overall wins and in conference wins as well with 214. Henson led the Illini to 12 NCAA appearances, including the 1989 Final Four when the Flyin' Illini won 31 games. Henson's Illini also won a Big Ten title in 1984.
Combes directed the Fighting Illini to 316 victories during his 20 seasons at Illinois from 1948-67. Combes led the UI to three Final Fours and Big Ten championships in 1949, 1951 and 1952, and a fourth Big Ten title in 1963. Combes' 174 wins in conference play rank eighth in league history.
Illinois won nearly 70 percent of its games in 11 seasons under Mills, compiling a 151-66 record from 1937-47. During that time, the Illini won three Big Ten championships in 1937, 1942 and 1943. Mills coached the famed Whiz Kids, who were 12-0 during conference play in 1943 and went 17-1 overall before all five starters entered the armed forces.
Jones served eight seasons at Illinois from 1913-20, leading the Illini to a 71.4percent winning percentage during his tenure (85-34). Jones guided the Illini to an undefeated season in 1915, as Illinois went a perfect 16-0 and was named national champion by the Helms Foundation. In addition to the 1915 Big Ten title, the Illini also won the conference in 1917.
ILLINOIS HONORED COACHES
Name Seasons Yrs. Overall Record Big Ten Record
Lou Henson 1976-96 21 423-224 .654 214-164 .567
Harry Combes 1948-67 20 316-150 .678 174-104 .626
Doug Mills 1937-47 11 151-66 .696 88-47 .652
Ralph Jones 1913-20 8 85-34 .714 64-31 .674
Big Ten Championships
Lou Henson 1984
Harry Combes 1949, 1951, 1952, 1963
Doug Mills 1937, 1942, 1943
Ralph Jones 1915, 1917
NCAA Final Fours
Lou Henson 1989
Harry Combes 1949, 1951, 1952
Helms Foundation National Championship
Ralph Jones 1915