'Incredible time'

By his own admission, Allan Houston has endured a lot of "ups and downs" since he joined the University of Tennessee basketball program in 1989. Sunday was an up ... way up ... as in, all the way to the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena.

That's where a banner bearing his name was raised, joining banners saluting ex-Vols Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King, former UT coach Ray Mears and longtime Voice of the Vols John Ward. The latest banner commemorates the retiring of Houston's number. No Tennessee player will ever wear "20" again.

Houston was visibly moved by the honor as he visited with the media before Sunday's Tennessee-Kentucky game and again as he addressed the crowd at halftime.

"You have no idea how you make me feel right now ... how special this really is. Thank you so much," he told the 21,678 who showed up for the Vols' regular-season finale.

After a standout prep career in Louisville, Ky., Allan made the move to Knoxville when his father left an assistant coaching position at the University of Louisville to become head man at Tennessee.

"When I walked onto this campus when I was a senior in high school I had no idea about what to expect," he said. "All I knew is, I didn't want to disappoint my family and I didn't want to disappoint you (fans). I didn't want to let you down. Hopefully, we didn't do that together."

Houston then brought a roar from the crowd by saying: "I want to thank Tennessee fans everywhere. There's no orange like Tennessee orange."

After four spectacular offensive seasons, Houston left as the Vols' all-time scoring leader with 2,801 points, a four-time first-team All-SEC pick and a two-time second-team All-America selection.

Tabbed by Detroit with the 11th pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, he went on to enjoy a distinguished 12-year pro career and represent the gold medal-winning U.S. squad in the 2000 Olympics.

Life has not been all happy endings for Allan Houston, however. For one thing, he never got to play in an NCAA Tournament. After leading Tennessee to a 16-14 record and the National Invitation Tournament in 1989-90, Allan played on teams that went 12-22 in 1990-91, 19-15 (with another NIT appearance) in 1991-92 and 13-17 in 1992-93. His final game as a Vol was a 101-40 loss to Kentucky.

"It's no mystery that we had some ups and downs here," Allan told the media. "Watching how he (Wade) handled his time here - how he handled being a father, how he handled being a coach, how he handled being a husband - I have so much more appreciation for it now. The influence he had in those four years ... for me to have that with him ... is priceless."

One year after Allan departed, however, his father was replaced as Tennessee's head coach on the heels of a 5-22 season.

Allan Houston admitted "it was tough" to forgive Tennessee after the school fired his father, but he eventually reconciled the relationship with his alma mater and has been one of its staunchest supporters - emotionally and financially - the past few years.

Sunday the university showed its gratitude for his brilliance as a player and his loyalty as an alumnus by retiring his number.

"This is an incredible time for me and my family," he said, adding that he has had "an incredible journey" and feels "so honored, so privileged to have been able to wear that Tennessee uniform and to be able to have learned the lessons I learned from my family that was here that was very supportive over this whole time."

Houston continued to touch on the family theme by noting: "The thing that makes it so special is the way it happened for me. Coming here and having the opportunity to play for your father - no matter how many wins or losses or stats - I believe me being here was so much about growing and learning how to be a young man."

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