Leon Neal to be inducted into Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame
May 9, 2012 | Chase Replogle
Evangel University women’s basketball head coach and former men’s basketball All-American Leon Neal was announced as part of the 2012 induction class into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in a news conference this morning.
Neal completed his 18th season as head coach of the Evangel women’s basketball team. He has been named Heart of America conference Coach-of-the-Year six times and has a career record of 380-208. Neal has guided the women’s team to eight conference championships, nine NAIA national tournament appearances and two NAIA Final Fours.
As a player, Neal was Evangel University’s first NAIA All-American and his 782 points scored in the 1977-78 season still ranks as the second best single season total in program history. He had a seven year professional basketball career in Europe and averaged at least 24 points per game in each of his pro seasons playing in Portugal.
Neal returned to Evangel following his playing career in Europe and completed a degree from Evangel in 1989. After serving the men’s and women’s basketball team as an assistant coach, he was elevated to a co-head coach with Lynn Bowen for five seasons from 1994-1999. Neal has coached 18 NAIA All-Americans and 60 all-conference performers.
In addition to his accomplishments as a player and coach, Neal has worked with the Springfield Police Department as part of their gang task force, he speaks to youth groups and schools and has coached AAU teams in addition to conducting basketball camps and private instructional camps.
Neal was not present for today’s announcement as he is with the Evangel women’s basketball team on a service and missions trip to Guatemala this week. He will be inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 25, 2012 along with former Parkview boys’ basketball coach Bob Brown, champion golfer Dr. John Ferguson, the late Dr. Bruce Harger, who served as Athletics Director at Drury University from 1988-2003, and the late Jane Meyer, a leader in Springfield media and advocate of area women’s athletics.
Leon Neal is the third person ever from Evangel University to be inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame. He joins Athletic Director Dr. David Stair, inducted in 2006 and head men’s basketball coach Steve Jenkins who was inducted last year.
Tickets for the induction dinner banquet on Sept. 25 can be purchased through Wannenmacher Advertising at 869-4848.
For additional information, contact:
Kevin Kennedy, Evangel University Athletics, (417) 865-2815, ext. 7260