Simpson feels at home coaching girls basketball at North Chicago
By Bryan Bonato Special to The News-Sun December 9, 2012 3:54PM
North Chicago assistant coach Lacey Simpson (left) talks to Justice Moore and other players during a timeout. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
THE LACEY SIMPSON FILE
Graduated from Zion-Benton High School in 2005 after the 6-foot-1 forward had a stellar prep basketball career.
Played her college ball at the University of Illinois.
Two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.
Big Ten All-Defensive Team in 2009 and 2010 (led the Big Ten in steals both years).
Set Illini single season and career records for steals and second in Big Ten history with career 368 steals.
Second in Illini history in career blocks, third in assists, fourth in rebounding, 17th in scoring.
Illinois all-time leader in games played.
Invited to the training camp of the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA on a free-agent contract in 2010 (later waived).
Played in Turkey and most recently in Iceland.
Currently, an assistant coach for the varsity girls team at North Chicago High School.
Updated: February 8, 2013 1:15AM
The first thing you notice about Lacey Simpson is how right she looks on the bench coaching high school girls basketball players.
A prep star at Zion-Benton High School and a four-year starter for the University of Illinois, Simpson stuck a toe into the whirlpool that is professional basketball, and now appears to dive in as a coach of girls who probably want to be the “next Lacey Simpson.”
Currently, Lacey is an assistant coach for Lawrence Brown at North Chicago High School.
It’s her first go-around coaching high school girls, and it won’t be her last.
“I always thought of myself as a coach. The main thing I want to give back to the community is teaching the girls good fundamentals and preparing them for what college is about,” she said before the Warhawks played a recent game against Vernon Hills.
“A lot of them have the dream of playing college ball, so I want to teach them what’s expected of them at that level. Just as important is pushing them to be better students, because at the end of the day, that’s something you can fall back on when your playing career is over.”
As for how she wound up on the North Chicago bench this winter:
“I got a call from my mother saying there was a position open,” she said. “Brian Colbert (a former basketball star back in the day at Zion-Benton High School and now the athletic director at North Chicago) was a fan of mine when I was in high school, so I was like, ‘I have to apply.’ North Chicago is a program that I always thought had a lot of talent.”
And, in case there’s any doubt in your mind ... The answer is ‘yes.’
“I get some flack for not being at Zion, but I feel like North Chicago is the program where I need to be right now.”
If things work out, this figures to be the start of a long coaching career for Simpson.
“I definitely want to become a head coach, working with girls in high school like I am now and hopefully working my way up to the next level,” she said.
“In college, I had a great experience, especially when Coach Law (former Illinois head women’s basketball coach Jolette Law, now an assistant at Tennessee) showed up with a defensive-minded approach. My style of basketball is fast-paced, up-and-down. That’s what I’m trying to teach these young ladies.”
For his part, head coach Lawrence Brown is thrilled to have Lacey on the team.
“Any time you can have a Big Ten All-Defensive Team player on your bench it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “We’re putting together a defense that is aggressive and gets after you all over the court. The girls are still learning, but it’s coming along.
“Lacey has a lot of intensity working with the girls, and she has some great expectations for them.”