UT announces plans to retire Allan Houston's No. 20

Allan Houston, UT basketball player, in a game against Mississippi State, January 16, 1993.

Photo by News Sentinel

Allan Houston, UT basketball player, in a game against Mississippi State, January 16, 1993.

Tennessee announces plans to retire Allan Houston's number (#20)

Former Vol Allan Houston during a visit back to UT in 2006.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess // Buy this photo

Former Vol Allan Houston during a visit back to UT in 2006.

Tennessee's all-time leading scorer and most decorated NBA player will have his jersey retired and hung in the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena on March 6.

But more important to Allan Houston than any shot he made, record he set, or game he won while wearing the orange and white No. 20, is that his family legacy will be recognized and remembered at the state's flagship university.

"My family has always been close, so I always felt like, not just to have my number go up, but the name go up, was more important to me,'' said Houston, a four-time All-SEC pick and two-time All-American with the Vols from 1990 to '93. "The first thing I thought about was my family's legacy will remain.''

UT announced at a news conference Monday that prior to the game against Kentucky, Houston will join former UT legends Bernard King (1975-77) and Ernie Grunfeld (1974-77) as the only men's basketball players to have their numbers retired and hung from the rafters.

Houston - whose 2,801 points top the UT charts and are second in SEC history only to the total scored by LSU's Pete Maravich - was in New York City on Monday tending to business with the NBA's New York Knicks as the team's assistant general manager.

Houston, 39, spent the final nine seasons of his NBA career with the Knicks after being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1993 draft by the Detroit Pistons and playing the first three years of his career there.

In addition to his NBA exploits, which included six playoff trips and two NBA all-star appearances, Houston was a member of USA Basketball's 2000 Olympic gold-medal-winning team in Sydney, Australia.

Houston's aunt and uncle - UT director of disability services Annazette Houston and UT director of programs and diversity initiatives Charles Houston - were on hand at the Monday news conference to represent their nephew.

Allan Houston, participating via teleconference, said playing for the Vols in East Tennessee while his father, Wade Houston, served as coach (1990-94), brought the family back to its roots.

"It's where the name started, my lineage, in Alcoa, Tennessee, where my dad grew up, where my grandfather came from when was a young boy on a slave plantation,'' Allan Houston said. "My dad became the first African-American coach in the Southeastern Conference here.

"(This) means all the things they fought through, the character they had to sustain to get to that point,'' he said. "For me, to have that name hung up in Thompson-Boling means so much more than any records.

"It means carrying the lineage and the legacy. That's why this is going to be emotional and real special to me.''

Vols coach Bruce Pearl said it means a great deal to have an ambassador like Houston representing UT.

"We can honor a lot of great basketball players, but we may never be able to honor a man, and a man of God, like Allan Houston,'' Pearl said at Monday's news conference. "You can aspire to be the kind of player Allan was, but that pales in comparison to the kind of man he is, and father he is, and the kind of relationship with the Lord he has and how he wears that on his sleeve.''

Houston, who graduated from Tennessee in 1993 with a degree in African-American studies, established the Wade Houston Scholarships for minority undergraduate students at UT in 2003.

Houston and his father also co-created the "Father Knows Best" basketball retreat, a Christian faith weekend event that combines basketball with life skills for fathers/mentors and their sons.

A McDonald's All-American at Louisville's Ballard High School, Houston was inducted into the state of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006 and was selected as UT's Chik-fil-A SEC Basketball Legend in 2007.

On Jan. 18, the New York Knicks announced Houston has been chosen the franchise's "Player of the Decade" for the period 2000-2009, and will be honored on Feb. 23 at Madison Square Garden.

"You do something for New York, they'll be sure to do something for you,'' said UT senior center Brian Williams, a native of the Bronx, N.Y. "When you look at all Allan Houston has done for this university, it's crazy. I don't know why it took so long to put his jersey up there.''

The UT athletic department announced criteria for number retirement in 2007, with men's basketball candidates needing a minimum of five years between their UT basketball careers and consideration for the honor.

Additionally, a candidate must have achieved two of the following four honors: First-team All-America honors, SEC Player of the Year award, member of an Olympic basketball team or a member of the NBA or ABA All-Star Team.

"For me, Tennessee had always been known as a football school,'' Houston said. "Then you think about basketball and those two names (Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld) stand out, and for me to be able to sustain the legacy of basketball with them is really a special feeling.''

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Comments » 43

lou_vol writes:

A great Vol from my hometown.

brod writes:

this is good. lofton should be next.

COWBOYSFAN1970 writes:

I like it . But what about Dale Ellis ?

marnel1958 writes:

There is no former Vol more deserving of this special honor than Allan Houston. It was very exciting when he played, with me always thinking..' If there's time on the clock, and Houston's in the game, we still had a chance'! I hope the fans will show both Allan and his dad, Wade, the appreciation and support they certainly deserve. I'll bet Allan would even suit up to help beat the Wildcats if he could!

tmartin writes:

Houston is the only McDonalds All American to ever pan out at UT. The other 2 were busts.

shtooo (Inactive) writes:

About time.

Bigger_Al writes:

Great move! Even as a Freshman, you could tell he was the best player on the floor. Stayed four years, got his degree. Silky smooth jumper. Great family too.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

A Well-deserved gesture by UT.

ole3putt writes:

What about Dale Ellis? IMO, the second best player in UT history.

VictorKruger writes:

in response to ole3putt:

What about Dale Ellis? IMO, the second best player in UT history.

You beat me to it, ole3putt.

When Ellis showed up in town last season, I figured it was to make whatever preparations were needed before retiring his jersey. I have a problem separating Allan's legacy from his father's, but it's hard to argue with Allan's career numbers. Just think what Ellis would have done had he been allowed to shoot further than 12 feet away from the basket.

FrostyVol writes:

Ellis should definitely be next. who would have thought he would turn out to be one of the great three point shooters in the NBA. Loved his game, though. Will never forget the game against UVA in the tournament and Ellis was guarding Ralph Sampson. Gave the #1 seeded Cav's all they wanted in that game and more.

volahoma writes:

Lofton is my all time favorite vol for a lot of reasons, but Ellis and probably others are in line ahead of him. I hope to see number 5 in the rafters, but I will see others before that.

vols_fan_n_tx writes:

I agree that Ellis should be next. Unquestionably one of the greatest to play for the Vols.

I_cannt_spull_viry_woll writes:

PISTONS

newportvol writes:

in response to volahoma:

Lofton is my all time favorite vol for a lot of reasons, but Ellis and probably others are in line ahead of him. I hope to see number 5 in the rafters, but I will see others before that.

I agree with you! just wont happen inless hes a nba all pro.. There certain guidelines "for some reason" that the player has to have a great nba career also ... Sadly it should just reflect what the player does at UT not after ut..

ole3putt writes:

It is not that Alan Houston is undeserving, but Dale Ellis should have been honored first. I truly hope that this jersey retirement does not become a love fest for Wade Houston, arguably the worst basketball coach @ UT in the modern era, thanks to that great politician and Vandy grad, Lamar Alexander.

zqvol writes:

There are many others that deserve this honor first.

BSweet writes:

in response to zqvol:

There are many others that deserve this honor first.

Disagree. There are others who deserve it as well, but none that deserve it before Allen. He was a great player and represented UT very well.

Bushhog88 writes:

What about the Vols who played before the 3 point ball? Not sure about this selection process. Allan is certainly deserving of the honor, but so are some older guys. Anybody remember a player from Grainger County? I ain't talking Skylar either.

hillsborovol writes:

Allan certainly is deserving of this honor, but like several others have posted, Dale Ellis should be included as well.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I was more of a UTC fan then!lol I watched UT and pulled for them but between working and...oh well I missed a lot those years. I remember he beat Kentucky at least once and maybe twice...for me that qualifies him.

Razor784 writes:

Well deserved, he played on some mediocre at best teams, but he was awesome. I really wish Tony White and Chris Lofton met the criteria for a number retirement, they're both deserving IMO.

DebKY writes:

Lofton will be playing on the Versus channel on February 12th with his NBA-D League.
GO VOLS!!!!!!!

wellswillie#404648 writes:

Congratulations Allan. You are so deserving. Thank you for coming to Tennessee and representing us with the kind of life anybody would be proud to be associated with. Great Career! Thanks Coach Pearl for always embracing past Tennessee legends and traditions. I support you and appreciate you also.

PeeEllthree writes:

Great player and man. Part of a terrible 25 yrs of UT basketball before BP. I'm 40. I know there had to have been a couple, but i don't recall a signature win from '88-'04. I remember 8-10 in the last 5 years.

ncvol17 writes:

Allan Houston was a great player on poor teams. Ernie & Bernie , Mike Jackson and the others were great to watch. Lots of fun in Stokely in the 70's..

acworthdave writes:

Dale Ellis is one of my all-time favorite players but I would never argue selecting Allen Houston. He was all we had during his four years. He was the go-to player and everyone knew it but he still dominated. He played with poise and class his entire career. Can you imagine how good he would have been if he would have had talent around him? Congrats and well deserved Mr. Houston.

dvols writes:

one cool cat...!

eduardo writes:

Worst 4 yrs of basketball in UT Basketball History. Good player, horrible teams!!!

eduardo writes:

Dale Ellis best better be next!!!

77VolFS writes:

Congrats Allan - well deserved honor. Thank you for representing UT well on and off the court. I'm excited about being there and cheering you and the Vols - should be a great day! GBO !!

VOLinATL writes:

Good news! For 4 years, he was the only reason to show up at Thompson-Boling. He had such grace and flair, which is hard to do when carrying a team on his back! I am just sorry I canot attend the ceremonies.

bkwats2003#237114 writes:

Dale Ellis should have his jersey retired also. And btw, Allan's grandfather must have been one of the oldest people in America to have been on a slave plantation in East Tennessee as a boy 145yrs ago.

heartwork writes:

I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Houston when he was a student at UT. In a system which too routinely uses its student athletes in the name of education, but sometimes at the expense of it, in pursuit of a winning season, he had been taught to value both. He never offered the grueling schedule of the demands on the court as a reason to fall short in the demands of the course. He did his work quietly and well.

And his work was a testimony to his upbringing as the extraordinarily gifted son of a father who was the first African-American basketball coach in the SEC and who was his coach.

This article shows that the younger Mr. Houston has remained who he was--humble about his gifts, grateful to his family, and graceful in his expression of both.

Thank you to the Houston family for being such a fine example of the largest kind of winning record.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Thanks Allan for being a great Vol. You have done us so proud and you, along with Ernie and Bernie and Dale, put Tennessee basketball on the map. Pretty cool. glad to see how much the Knicks appreciate you as well. You also seem to be proud to be a Vol. Very cool...

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to heartwork:

I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Houston when he was a student at UT. In a system which too routinely uses its student athletes in the name of education, but sometimes at the expense of it, in pursuit of a winning season, he had been taught to value both. He never offered the grueling schedule of the demands on the court as a reason to fall short in the demands of the course. He did his work quietly and well.

And his work was a testimony to his upbringing as the extraordinarily gifted son of a father who was the first African-American basketball coach in the SEC and who was his coach.

This article shows that the younger Mr. Houston has remained who he was--humble about his gifts, grateful to his family, and graceful in his expression of both.

Thank you to the Houston family for being such a fine example of the largest kind of winning record.

good

volahoma writes:

in response to Bushhog88:

What about the Vols who played before the 3 point ball? Not sure about this selection process. Allan is certainly deserving of the honor, but so are some older guys. Anybody remember a player from Grainger County? I ain't talking Skylar either.

I am thinking you are remembering A Dudya; I sure do! Another...I was in Stokley the night Ron Widby scored 50 and broke the current record. Had the 3 pt shot been in effect then, he might have scored >60 that night. His jersey might be hanging in the rafters, but he chose to play pro FB and not pro BB. Just saying...

tennrich1 writes:

Remember Michael Brooks? Now he could fill it up from three..he just played a few years too early...I too have fond memories of Dale Ellis...the ball always went through him on all our sets....and he knew what to do with it....Cant argue with Allan Houston, though....How did that team just win what 5 or 6 games one season???

johnlg00 writes:

in response to newportvol:

I agree with you! just wont happen inless hes a nba all pro.. There certain guidelines "for some reason" that the player has to have a great nba career also ... Sadly it should just reflect what the player does at UT not after ut..

Agree completely! Lofton is arguably the face of the Tennessee basketball resurgence. He did as much to stoke interest in the program as anyone in the last 25 years. I was a great Allan Houston fan and my admiration for him has only grown over the years, but he was just about the ONLY reason to watch UT basketball while he was here. Lofton lifted his whole team--indeed the whole program--in a way Allan never could. He MUST be honored in SOME special way, even if they refuse to waive the rules for full retirement of his jersey.

gbo78 writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

Thanks Allan for being a great Vol. You have done us so proud and you, along with Ernie and Bernie and Dale, put Tennessee basketball on the map. Pretty cool. glad to see how much the Knicks appreciate you as well. You also seem to be proud to be a Vol. Very cool...

Very deserving...I'm glad UT has set the bar high so this honor doesn't diluted. I think Dale Ellis and Ron Widby meet the criteria but I can't think of any others.

Wilhelm16 writes:

in response to brod:

this is good. lofton should be next.

Agreed!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gbo78:

Very deserving...I'm glad UT has set the bar high so this honor doesn't diluted. I think Dale Ellis and Ron Widby meet the criteria but I can't think of any others.

As many have said on here, Ellis should be a sure thing to be honored in this way according to the existing criteria. I think it was unfortunate that they added the pro standard to this honor. If the standards exclude players as well-loved, accomplished, and valuable to the Big Orange as A.W. Davis, Chris Lofton, and Ron Widby, they may be just too high, or at least too exclusive.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to johnlg00:

As many have said on here, Ellis should be a sure thing to be honored in this way according to the existing criteria. I think it was unfortunate that they added the pro standard to this honor. If the standards exclude players as well-loved, accomplished, and valuable to the Big Orange as A.W. Davis, Chris Lofton, and Ron Widby, they may be just too high, or at least too exclusive.

I know I'm biased but I really believe Lofton should be playing NBA...maybe Chism too! Even J. Smith is quick enough for NBA! But I guess I think all our X players should be there. I loved watching Ellis play...wish I'd seen Houston play more.

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