May 22, 2021
By Fred Liggett
A chance to get back into coaching in the Midwest and be near his grandkids were just two of the reasons why Leon Neal accepted the head coaching position for girls basketball at Summit Christian Academy. On Thursday, May 13 the home of the Eagles made the announcement that the Missouri Sports Hall of Famer would be coming to the school this fall to lead the program.
Coach Neal says he “was excited” to hear from Summit Christian Athletic Director Lance Quessenberry when he reached out to him about this opportunity. Neal and Quessenberry have worked together before at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Neal states he is “looking forward to a new chapter in my life.”
Once here in Lee’s Summit Neal plans to bring a “tough brand of basketball” to Summit Christian. The long time college coach says he has “been known for defense and will build around that.” Neal adds “fans can expect a motion offense to be run.” Some of the philosophy Neal uses with his student athletes he feels comes from long time college coaches Dick and Tony Bennett. The Bennett’s are a father-son coaching family with Dick working at Wisconsin and Tony now coaching at Virginia.
If the Leon Neal sounds familiar it’s probably due to his lengthy stint as head women’s basketball coach at Evangel where he served in that role from 1994-2018. Before taking over the women’s program he was an assistant for the men’s team under Steve Jenkins starting in 1986. Coach Neal calls his time at the college as “a great run.” Neal’s success at the Springfield-based school was enough to get him named a Missouri Sports Hall of Famer.
For now Neal is an assistant at Cedarville University in Oregon. The school year does not end until June 17 so Leon and his wife Dawn will have to wait a bit before returning to Missouri. Once Neal is back in the Show-Me State he is looking forward to being closer to his daughter and grandkids who live in Springfield. Neal will also be working with his wife Dawn who will serve as an assistant coach with the Eagles.
Coach Neal is quick to say he is “very excited to be coming” to Summit Christian. Soon the Eagles will be happy to have a hall of famer on staff and leading one of their athletic programs.