KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/SUBMITTED) -- Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton, along with head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, announced on Monday plans to retire Allan Houston’s No. 20 during a pregame ceremony on March 6, when the Volunteers host Kentucky at Thompson-Boling Arena (noon ET, CBS).
Houston, 37, will join fellow UT legends Bernard King (1975-77) and Ernie Grunfeld (1974-77) as the only Tennessee men’s basketball players to have their number retired and hung from the rafters in Thompson-Boling Arena.
“Allan represents everything the term ‘student-athlete’ is supposed to represent,” Hamilton said. “He was a very good student, a campus leader and tremendously successful on the court. We are thrilled to have his number hang in the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena as a tribute to who he was, and is today.”
In 2007, the Tennessee Athletics Department announced criteria for number retirement. Men’s basketball candidates must have a minimum of five years between the candidate’s UT basketball career and consideration for this honor. A candidate must have achieved two of the following four honors: candidate must be a first-team All-America, SEC Player of the Year, member of an Olympic basketball team or a member of the NBA or ABA All-Star Team.
Tennessee’s all-time leading scorer (2,801 points), a two-time All-America and a four-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, Houston trails only LSU’s Pete Maravich on the SEC’s all-time scoring chart while ranking 16th in NCAA Division I history. A native of Louisville, Ky., Houston was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 11th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, and he played 12 seasons in the NBA. One of the most prolific scorers of his era, he spent his final nine NBA seasons with the New York Knicks and now serves as the Knicks’ assistant general manager.
Pearl and Houston have maintained a strong relationship since Pearl’s hiring as the Vols’ head coach in 2005, and Houston has attended Tennessee games and addressed the team on numerous occasions in recent years.
“To have a man of Allan Houston’s stature represent the University of Tennessee in the world of sports... he provides a tremendous example of how it’s supposed to be done,” Pearl said. “Allan is much like Peyton Manning in that—as a student-athlete, as a professional athlete at the highest level, as an Olympian who represented our county and as a philanthropist and community servant—you’re hard pressed to find anyone better.”
Houston arrived in Knoxville as a state champion and McDonald’s All-America performer out of Louisville’s Ballard High School, and his father, Wade Houston, was UT’s head coach during Allan’s entire college career. Allan graduated from UT in 1993 with a degree in African-American studies. In 2003, Allan established the Wade Houston Scholarships for minority undergraduate students at UT.
Allan Houston finished his Big Orange career as the school’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, with 346 career treys to rank sixth all-time in NCAA history (now ranks 27th). He captured the 1993 SEC scoring title by averaging 22.3 points per game and also set UT’s single-season scoring record with 806 points as a sophomore in 1990-91. Houston played his way to MVP honors at the 1991 SEC Tournament, was named to ESPN’s five-man Silver Anniversary All-SEC Team and most recently was selected to Tennessee’s All-Century Team.
“Four of the most meaningful years in my life were spent at the University of Tennessee when I was able to come with my family,” Houston said. “Here, God allowed me to grow up as a man and as a student-athlete. And I thank everyone who supported me, my family and the university for helping me along the way.”
Houston ranked 10th in the NBA in scoring in 2002-03, averaging 22.5 points per game. He led the league in free-throw percentage (.919) and ranked fourth in 3-pointers made (178) that same year. He served as a Knicks co-captain from 1999-2005 and was a key contributor during the franchise’s run to the 1999 Eastern Conference Championship. His 11,165 points with the Knicks trails only Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed.
Houston scored a career-high 53 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003, he was a career .402 shooter from 3-point range and he finished his NBA career with 14,551 points.
In addition to his NBA success—which included six playoff appearances (during which he averaged 19.3 points per game), two All-Star appearances and a career scoring average of 17.3 points per game—Houston also earned Olympic gold with USA Basketball’s men’s team at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.
Houston was inducted into the state of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006 and also was selected as UT’s Chick-fil-A SEC Basketball Legend in 2007.
On Jan. 18, the New York Knicks announced that Houston had been selected the franchise’s “Player of the Decade” for the period 2000-09. He will be honored Feb. 23 at Madison Square Garden on “Legend Night.”
A proud family man and philanthropist, Houston co-created—along with his father—the “Father Knows Best” Basketball Retreat, a Christian faith-based weekend event that combines high-powered basketball with life-skills for fathers/mentors and their sons/mentees. It is one of many initiatives Houston supports through Allan Houston Enterprises and the Legacy Foundation.
Houston and his wife, Tamara, reside in Connecticut with their six children.