Joe Niego grew up in a blue-collar family on the south side of Chicago, one of eight children. Though the Niego’s played a multitude of sports, it was basketball that captured the family’s attention. Everyone in the family played laying the groundwork for seven of the eight children to earn full basketball scholarships to college.
After playing grammar school basketball at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, Joe joined forces with his twin brothers, Tom and Charlie, at De La Salle High School. As a result, De La Salle basketball was permanently thrust into the spotlight. While playing with his family, Joe and the rest of the Meteors captured the highly competitive, rough and tumble Catholic League Championship three years in a row. In 1982, Joe’s junior year, the Meteors held the #1 ranking in the Chicagoland area and the #2 state ranking in Illinois.
Upon graduating from De La Salle, Joe earned a full basketball scholarship and followed his older brothers to Lewis University. Eventually younger brother Mark joined Joe, Tom and Charlie at Lewis. In 1985, the four brothers set a NCAA record; it was the first time in history that brothers captured four of the five starting positions. Charlie, Tom, Joe and Mark also caught the country’s attention when they started the season 14-0, and in one game scoring all Lewis’ points.
All the major media organizations descended upon the brothers and ran feature stories. They were covered in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Sports Illustrated, Star Magazine, USA Today, and Connie Chung on NBC National News.
Then upon graduating from Lewis in 1987, Joe was drafted in the 4th round by the NBA Houston Rockets. After a short stint with the Rockets, Joe retired and returned to Chicago.
When it comes to basketball, Joe’s true passion is player development.
“There’s is nothing more gratifying then seeing a player make a breakthrough,” says Niego. “The kids get better; gain confidence which eventually leads to more success.”
Since 1995, Joe Niego has been instructing and developing players on the fundamentals of basketball. A number of his players have gone on to play at the high school and college level. As a former player and experienced youth coach, Joe has developed a system to get the best out of players.
Julie Niego was three-sport athlete at Schaumburg high school. While playing basketball as a Saxon, she was a unanimous Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and Suburban Life All-Area selection. In 1986, Julie accepted a full athletic scholarship from Lewis University. After graduating, Julie taught elementary education for a number of years before starting her family.
Joe and Julie met at Lewis University and married in 1995. Today, they have 5 boys, Harrison, Connor, Nolan, Grant, and Jackson. They all play basketball.