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John Giannini

John Giannini

College basketball coach | 508–375 career mark | Class of 1992

What John Giannini wouldn’t give for a blueberry blintz from Aunt Sonya's right now.

That was his go-to order at the former Champaign breakfast joint in the early 1990s, when the aspiring college basketball coach and wife Donna called Hessel Manor home.

“We loved Aunt Sonya’s and Garcia’s Flying Tomato drive-thru pizza," says the former Flyin' Illini grad assistant, who in March 2018 parted ways with LaSalle after going 212-226 in 14 seasons as head coach, including a Sweet 16 trip in 2013. "Donna was a nanny for Dr. Suzanne Trupin and we dearly loved their kids — Rachel, Peir and Payton.

“Of course, Coach (Lou) Henson’s basketball program was extremely special to be a part of. I remember when Mark Coomes gave me my first Illinois basketball jacket to wear. I couldn’t believe it. That staff helped Scott Nagy, Jim Phillips and myself with opportunities that led us to our professional dreams.

“Lastly, studying sport psychology, I spent a lot of time at Freer Gymnasium. The thin-crust pizza down the street at Treno’s was unbelievable.”