It’s been quite some time since Allan Houston stepped foot on a basketball court, but his influence at Tennessee continues to show itself.
UT’s all-time leading scorer and second in program history in 3-pointers made, Houston returned to his alma-mater over the weekend in honor of his father, Wade.
Visiting practice on Friday, the two-time NBA All Star was given the chance to provide the Vols some extra lift before their matchup with Kentucky.
Judging by Saturday’s result, the pep talk clearly worked. His message didn’t have anything to do with the matchup, however.
“My biggest message was that these guys have an opportunity to do something here that hasn’t been done before,” Allan Houston said. “Let that be what motivates you and drives you. Your influence, your name and what that represents.”
Tennessee would go on to defeat the Wildcats, 71-52, in front of a capacity crowd, regaining their footing atop the SEC standings and exacting a bit of revenge on their conference rival.
Having made their return to the top five, the Vols now have just two games remaining in the regular season before they head to Nashville for the SEC Tournament.
During a span that has seen Tennessee lose more games in two weeks than it had all season, Houston felt obligated to share memories of his playing career, one that spanned for over a decade.
Ultimately, the former Detroit Piston and New York Knick reverted to lessons taught to him through childhood.
“When I thought about this moment, I just shared some stories about what my father taught me,” Allan Houston said. “Just about your real legacy and what you want that to be.”
As the current Vols stampeded over the Wildcats with an array of outside shots, dunks and highlight plays on the defensive end of the ball, Houston paused for a moment.
Not for reflection or not to gather his emotions, but to examine the crowd for a hint of Kentucky blue. He couldn’t find any. That’s when his thoughts became clear.
“What I thought about the most was that there was no blue (at the game),” Allan Houston said. “It’s the character of the players, staff, Rick and everyone else. It’s the culture they’ve built, that’s what I’m enthusiastic about.”
Barnes introduces Wade Houston Captain’s award
Allan wasn’t the only Houston that the spotlight was shining on this weekend in Knoxville, and Rick Barnes was a big reason why.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Barnes announced the creation of the Wade Houston Captain’s Award, an annual honor that will be given to the team member 'who best exemplified leadership, a team-first approach and exemplary work ethic'.
Houston, who became the conference’s first African-American head coach in 1989, guided the Vols to a 65-90 record and multiple NIT appearances in nearly five years at the helm.
Despite breaking barriers in terms of coaching in the SEC, the elder Houston was a bit taken aback when he heard the news.
“It was a little surprising, but it feels good to know that you’re still remembered,” Wade Houston said. “I was happy to be a part of it and not only did it mean a lot to me, it meant to Allan as well.”
An Alcoa, Tennessee, native, Wade had been absent from campus since his son’s jersey was raised to the Thompson-Boling Arena rafters in 2011. He’s since became a successful businessman in Louisville, where he owns and operates a trucking and logistics company.
Not only did Tennessee introduce the award in his honor, the University also announced a scholarship dedicated to his ambitions outside of basketball.
Starting this year, one student from Alcoa High School planning on majoring in supply-chain management in the Haslam College of Business will receive the endowment.
It’s that initiative and reality that means so much to both Allan and Wade, both of whom have legacies at Tennessee that will live on for years to come.
“For him to take that initiative to honor my dad is what makes it truly special,” Allan Houston said. “A lot of the things that we went through when we were here just makes that the icing on the cake.”