It’s about time.
Tennessee announced on Thursday that they would be retiring Chris Lofton’s No. 5 jersey on January 14th before a home game with Kentucky. That date, of course, is significant to Lofton with Kentucky coming to town, considering the Kentucky native was never offered by the in-state Wildcats.
Lofton landed at Tennessee and jumpstarted the Bruce Pearl era in Knoxville. Iconic moments and lights out shooting highlighted his time in Knoxville from 2004-2008. The three-time AP All-American joined practice on Thursday and received a surprise — though he was already suspicious.
Chris knew something was up... pic.twitter.com/iiPbLHf2F0— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) September 15, 2022
It’s time.— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) September 15, 2022
We’re sending 5️⃣ to the rafters!
DETAILS » https://t.co/6gVHooP4ac pic.twitter.com/Va6mmfneTx
Zakai Zeigler currently wears No. 5 for Tennessee.
(Update: Zeigler has Lofton’s blessing to continue wearing it)
Lofton becomes Tennessee’s fifth men’s basketball player to have their number retired. He joins Bernard King, Ernie Grunfeld, Allan Houston and Dale Ellis forever in the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena.
“It’s remarkable what a legacy Chris left here at Tennessee,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “Since I’ve been here, I can’t count the number of fans who have told me Chris Lofton stories. And I know all too well the type of shot-maker he was in the game’s biggest moments. He’s extremely deserving of this prestigious recognition.”
To this day, Lofton still holds the career record for most three-pointers made at 431. He shot a ridiculous 42 percent from beyond the arc for his career. Lofton took home SEC Player of the Year honors as a junior, scoring over 20 points per game.
Lofton ended up facing a cancer diagnosis during that junior season, undergoing treatments throughout his senior season. That was kept under wraps though, as no announcement was made until a month after his senior season.
Though he never got a shot to play in the NBA, Lofton’s professional career took him to Spain, Russia, Turkey, France, Lithuania and South Korea.
Now, with Kentucky in the building on January 14th, Lofton will be honored among Tennessee’s elite.