Ernie & Bernie will finally get some company in the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters, and it's well deserved: Allan Houston will have his #20 retired in the season finale against Kentucky on Sunday, March 6.
Houston played for the Vols and his father Wade from 1989-90 through 1992-93, and is Tennessee's all-time leading scorer. He's also number two on the SEC's all-time scoring list, behind the great Pistol Pete Maravich. Houston was named All-SEC all four years in Knoxville and was a two-time All-American, leading the Vols to a pair of NIT appearances during his career.
He was drafted 11th by the Detroit Pistons in 1993, but achieved his greatest success with the New York Knicks from 1996-2005. His most famous play came in Game 5 of the first round of the 1999 NBA Playoffs, leading the 8 seed Knicks to a stunning victory over the Miami Heat:
The Knicks went on to make the NBA Finals that season. Houston was an All-Star in 2000 and 2001 and won a gold medal in Sydney. Houston finished his career 10th in NBA history for made three pointers. He currently serves as Assistant General Manager for the Knicks.
The opponent is fitting: Houston is from Louisville, and deserves the stage the Kentucky game will provide. It's also good to see that the Vols have mended fences with the Houston family, as I'm sure Wade will be on hand.
Tennessee's criteria for retiring numbers is incredibly strict - after Houston the only remaining eligible Vols are Dale Ellis, and maybe Chris Lofton depending on if one of his All-American selections is interpreted as first-team. Still, Houston is more deserving of this honor than anyone after Ernie & Bernie. Watching Houston play as a child, he was larger than life - a true standout player on average teams at best, always capable of going off every single night. He was the brightest star in Thompson-Boling for at least a decade, and remains the last great NBA player to come out of Knoxville. Even as Bruce Pearl has drastically improved our basketball fortunes, Houston deserves our thanks as one of the very best to ever wear the orange.
Updated with Houston's career accolades after the jump...
- One of 9 Vols to score 40+ in a single game; Houston had 43 against LSU in 1990.
- Career scoring leader at UT with 2,801 points; more than 500 points ahead of Ernie Grunfeld. For context, Chris Lofton scored 2,131 points in his UT career.
- Trails only Ernie & Bernie for career scoring average at UT with 21.9 points per game, the only trio to average 20+ points per game for their career average.
- Trails only Bernard King in career 30+ point games with 23
- First in all-time free throws made with 651, second in all-time free-throw percentage at 84.9%.
- Only Houston and Chris Lofton have hit 8 three pointers in a single game; Houston trails only Lofton in career three-pointers made (Lofton 431 - Houston 346. Next closest: JaJuan Smith with 253).
- Houston tops Lofton by 0.2% in career three-point percentage at 42.4%.
- 6th all-time in assists, 13th all-time in steals
- UT's career leader in minutes played with 4,606, more than 500 minutes more than C.J. Watson in second.
- Tied with Chris Lofton with 128 career starts
- Second all-time in scoring, behind only Pistol Pete
- Fourth all-time in three pointers made (Lofton is first)
- Fourth all-time in free throws made, second all-time in career FT percentage (min 500 attempts)