Knoxville, Tenn.--(UTSports) Saturday will be a historic day at Thompson-Boling Arena, as Tennessee basketball legend Dale Ellis (1979-83) will have his No. 14 jersey retired prior to the Volunteers’ noon ET game against rival Vanderbilt (ESPN2).
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:40 a.m. ET so they can be a part of the pregame ceremony, during which a banner in Ellis’ honor will be unveiled in the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters.
Ellis becomes the sixth UT men’s basketball representative – and just the fourth player – to be permanently honored in such a way. Legendary head coach Ray Mears and beloved broadcaster John Ward had banners hung in their honor March 1, 2006. Bernard King had his No. 53 retired Feb. 13, 2007; Ernie Grunfeld’s No. 22 was retired March 2, 2008; and Allan Houston’s No. 20 was retired March 6, 2011.
After twice earning first-team All-American and SEC Player of the Year honors (1982 and 1983) while playing primarily in the post at Tennessee, Ellis evolved into one of the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history during a 17-year career at the game’s highest level.
While addressing the media Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena, Ellis explained how he managed to excel in two different facets of the game as a collegian and as a pro.
“I did exactly what my coaches asked of me,” Ellis said. “If I was asked to play hard on the defensive end, guard a two or guard a center, or post up, or whatever it was, I just wanted to be on the floor. I was fortunate to have teammates who were willing to sacrifice their game at times to get me involved and to have a coaching staff that believed in me.”
Ellis had nothing but glowing things to say about the memories from his four years on Rocky Top.
“I am always excited to come back to Knoxville,” Ellis said. “When I left here after college and went on to play professional ball, it took me years to get back here. The city has made a lot of changes. The University has grown. I have always considered Knoxville a home away from home for me. I have always received a ton of love here. For four years, it was the best time of my life spending right it right here in college.”
Ellis attended Tennessee’s practice Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena and spoke to the team afterward.
His message to the current Vols centered on the preparation, approach and attitude it takes for a team to achieve its maximum efficiency.
Included in his speech to the team was a reference to a sign that used to hang in Stokely Athletics Center, which was Tennessee’s home venue during his days as a Vol: Your attitude determines your altitude.
Ellis said those words always stuck with him throughout his outstanding and impressively lengthy NBA career.
GLANCING AT THE STANDINGS
With three regular-season games left to play, the Volunteers sit in a four-way tied for fourth place in the SEC standings.
At 8-7, Tennessee is tied with Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss. Having won the lone regular-season meeting with each of those teams, the Vols would win a tiebreaker with all three clubs.
Kentucky’s loss to Arkansas Thursday night secured the SEC Championship for Florida, which owns an unblemished 15-0 mark in league play.
Kentucky occupies second place at 11-4, and Georgia sits in third place at 10-5.
After the current four-way tie for fourth place, Missouri, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are tied for eighth place.
Alabama and Auburn are tied for 11th place at 5-10, while Mississippi State and South Carolina bring up the rear in a tie for 13th place at 3-12.
In addition to owning the tiebreaker over the three teams they’re currently tied with (by virtue of head-to-head wins), the Vols also could claim a tiebreaker over Georgia if they finish with the same conference record.
After hosting Vanderbilt Saturday, Tennessee closes out regular-season play at Auburn (March 5) and at home vs. Missouri (March 8, Senior Day).
The top-four finishers in regular-season play receive a bye directly to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, which takes place March 12-16 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Quarterfinal play begins Friday, March 14.
Tickets for the SEC Tournament remain available for purchase through the UT Ticket Office. Full tournament books are $375 and can be purchased online at UTtix.com or by calling 1-800-332-8657.
14 TWEETABLE FACTS ABOUT #DALEELLIS14
Here are 14 easy-to-tweet facts, each 140 characters or less, about Tennessee basketball great Dale Ellis. We encourage fans to make their own and share using Twitter hashtag #DaleEllis14.
#DaleEllis14 graduated from Marietta High School in Marietta, Ga., where he was coached by Charlie Hood.
As a @Vol_Hoops junior in 1981-82, #DaleEllis14 led the SEC in field-goal percentage, making 65.4 percent of his shots.
#DaleEllis14 scored a @Vol_Hoops career-high 39 points in the Vols’ home win over Oklahoma City Dec. 22, 1982.
As a @Vol_Hoops senior, #DaleEllis14 averaged career-highs for scoring (22.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg) while shooting .601.
As a @Vol_Hoops senior, #DaleEllis14 set the Tennessee record for single-season scoring with 724 points (has since been broken).
#DaleEllis14 finished his @Vol_Hoops career ranking third on Tennessee's all-time scoring lists with 2,065 points (now ranks sixth).
#DaleEllis14 was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the ninth overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft.
#DaleEllis14 was the first player in the history of the NBA to make 1,000 3-point shots.
#DaleEllis14 won the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1986-87 when he averaged 24.9 points per game for the Seattle Supersonics.
#DaleEllis14 won the NBA Long Distance Shootout during the 1989 All-Star Weekend in Houston.
#DaleEllis14 scored 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting in the 1989 NBA All-Star Game in Houston.
#DaleEllis14 finished 3rd in the 1988-89 NBA scoring race with a career-best 27.5 points (behind Jordan [32.5 ppg] and Malone [29.1 ppg]).
One of the best 3-point shooter in NBA history, #DaleEllis14 led the league with a .464 3-point shooting percentage in 1997-98.
#DaleEllis14 played 1,209 career NBA games, totaling 19,004 points and averaging 15.7 ppg.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.