ALCOA - It was a homecoming for the Houstons at Alcoa Middle School.
Former University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Wade Houston and former UT All-American player Allan Houston delivered messages of faith, family and education Friday to assembled students in the gym.
The first annual Wade Houston Golf Tournament took place at Pine Lake Golf Course in Rockford on Saturday, a day which was declared "Wade and Allan Houston Day'' by Alcoa Mayor Don Mull at the assembly.
"I used to come back here to Alcoa, where my father was raised, every summer, so this is very special to me,'' said Allan Houston, who in addition to his various charitable works serves as the assistant to the president for basketball operations for the New York Knicks.
"A great deal of my family interactions with my cousins and relatives took place here, so this feels close to home,'' he said. "I actually played as much basketball growing up at these parks here as I did in Louisville.''
Allan Houston turned those skills into a UT career that left him as the Vols' all-time leading scorer (2,801 points, 1989-93). He went on to a successful NBA career with the Detroit Pistons and Knicks from 1993-2005, twice being named an all-star in addition to winning a gold medal on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.
Wade Houston, who was raised in Alcoa before going on to play and serve as an assistant coach at Louisville, mentored his son during his UT tenure from 1989-94.
"It was a part of growth, and it was a good experience, the family was together,'' said Wade Houston, who compiled a 65-90 record in five seasons with the Vols. "You always want to try to be successful and leave your mark. The program has always had a ton of potential. It was a matter of trying to get things to fall into place.''
Wade Houston said he has been impressed with the job UT has done with the program over the past five years.
"It's been a cooperative effort between Pat (Summitt) and Bruce (Pearl) working together, and Bruce has done a good job marketing the program,'' Wade Houston said. "He's put good players and teams on the floor.''
Wade Houston said he wishes he could have had more success with the Vols, but he left the coaching profession having accomplished much.
"We went to four Final Fours and won two national titles (as an assistant coach at Louisville),'' Wade Houston said. "I had been in coaching a long time, so I'd had a lot of success.''
Wade Houston entered the business world following his coaching stint with the Vols and still plays a major role in Houston-Johnson Inc., a logistics and warehousing company based in Louisville, Ky.
"A lot of coaches get pigeon-holed,'' Wade Houston said, explaining his decision to get out of coaching. "I had some other choices, and I wanted to be my own boss and run my own company.''
Wade Houston also works with Allan Houston with the "Father Knows Best" basketball retreat, an annual charity event which promotes faith and family relationships.
"Being a good father is much more than just being present in your kid's life,'' said Allan Houston, who brought his third-grade son, Allan III, to Friday's festivities.
Wade Houston said he has always been involved in mentoring youth, even before Allan was born.
"When Allan was close to the end of his playing career with the Knicks, we came up with the idea of pairing fathers and sons together,'' Wade Houston said. "We want to let people know how important it is to have a father in the home.
"We saw many good things happening for kids when that was the case, particularly in the inner city.''
Friday, the Alcoa middle schoolers were the benefactors of the father-son team of Wade and Allan Houston and their wholesome and heartfelt messages.
"This is a big event, and it's a celebration of their (the Houston's) success,'' said Logan Hill, an event organizer who was Wade Houston's high school classmate in Alcoa. "They are motivating these kids and showing them how they can be successful in life.
"Next year, we're going to try to get Lynn Swann to be the honorary chairman for the event.''
Swann, a Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers and later a national broadcaster, is a native of Alcoa. Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006 and continues to work as a politician.