Getting UofL number retired not easy

With the University of Louisville having captured its third NCAA tournament championship, some are wondering whether the University may decide to retire a player’s number.

Like maybe the No. 3 on jerseys worn by point guard Peyton Siva? Or the No. 2 belonging to Russ Smith?

No. 2 may have a shot.
No. 2 may have a shot.

The answer in Siva’s case is probably not despite the indispensable role he played in the championship run. Russ Smith has a much better shot if he lives up to expectations going into next season.

UofL has specific criteria for retiring numbers and only four players have had their numbers retired. There is one guideline, making it quite clear who can have their number retired, according to Kenny Klein, sports information director.

“To be eligible for retirement of a player’s number, the player must be, at minimum, a consensus All-America pick,” he told Card Game. Only four players in UofL basketball history have earned the honor. They are Pervis Ellison (42), Darrell Griffith (35), Charlie Tyra (8) and Wes Unseld (31).

So why are there so many banners with the names of former UofL players hanging in the rafters at Freedom Hall and the KFC Yum! Center? Well, there’s a big difference between “retiring” and “honoring” a jersey.

Klein says for a player’s jersey or number to be honored, the player must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Must be named to an All-America first, second or third team of a national publication or wire service; an Academic All-America selection; or be named conference player of the year;
  • Or must appear in the Top 10 of at least four U of L career statistical categories;
  • Or may be selected for the honor by a blue ribbon panel if he played prior to 1960. The last criteria is included as to not diminish the accomplishments of earlier years, realizing that statistical comparisons may be inconclusive.

Consideration may also be given for the player to have completed his eligibility for at least three years to be eligible. A committee shall present individuals for consideration to the Director of Athletics. Each player should be a member of a team which gained significant notoriety or earned a special place in Cardinal basketball lore.

Players whose numbers have been honored include: Butch Beard, Junior Bridgeman, Jack Coleman, Don Goldstein, Lancaster Gordon, George Hauptfuhrer, Bob Lochmueller, Rodney McCray, Jim Morgan, Allen Murphy, Chuck Noble, Bud Olsen, Jim Price, Kenny Reeves, Phil Rollins, Derek Smith, Billy Thompson, John Turner, Milt Wagner and DeJuan Wheat.

The criteria for retiring or honoring player numbers in football is similar.

Ellison enshrined in Kentucky Hall of Fame

Pervis Ellison and Denny Crum (Jim Reed photo)
Pervis Ellison and Denny Crum

Almost three decades after leading the University of Louisville to its second national basketball championship, Pervis Ellison was inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame on Thursday, along with former UofL football player Dwayne Woodruff.JR10046-EllisonPlaque

Ellison was the first freshman to be picked as Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament after UofL defeated Duke 72-69 in 1986. He had 2,143 points, 1,149 rebounds and 374 blocked shots during his collegiate career. His jersey hangs in the KFC Yum! Center.

Ellison was the No. 1 pick in the 1989 NBA draft. He was chosen by the Sacramento Kings and spent 11 seasons as a pro. He also played for the Bullets, Celtics and Supersonics.

Woodruff, who graduated from UofL in 1979, played cornerback 12 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, making 37 interceptions. A sixth round draft pick,  he won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV. His football jersey hangs in Cardinal Stadium and a study center for athletes on campus bears his name.

Ellison family still thriving on basketball

[stextbox id=”custom”]
Pervis Ellison, who played a key role in the University of Louisville’s 1986 NCAA championship, has joined the coaching ranks, and will oversee the Life Center Academy basketball program in Burlington County, New Jersey. Ellison also has a 6-foot-2 daughter, Aja, a freshman last season at Shipley High School in Philadelphia. Cardinal Couple reports that Jeff Walz has already offered Aja a scholarship.

Louisville basketball commits come and go

The meaning of commitment apparently depends on what day it is for some, suggesting that a major generational gap exists between college athletes of today and yesterday.

Negus Webster-Chan, the player many fans keep forgetting is in the University of Louisville’s 2012 basketball recruiting class, has backed off his verbal. He apparently wants to visit five other schools.

Maybe not getting enough buzz on the fan message boards or the fawning that many highly-touted recruits receive. Possibly, there’s a shoe company connection he wants to cement, or a talent agency contact to cultivate. Conceivably a combination of all the above. Or maybe he’s genuinely wanting to look around. All we know for sure is that he has backed out of his commitment.

One is reminded of the Marquis Teague courtship, a player all but committed to U of L until a couple of weeks before the signing date. Wound up going to Kentucky which has made a fine art out of embellishing the recruiting process.

Meanwhile, Rodney Purvis, often mentioned in the same breath as all-time greats Rodney McCray and Pervis Ellison, is remaining firm on his verbal, declaring on his Twitter account, “My word is my bond.”

If he remains committed, with his talent level, with his contact Tim Fuller having left for Missouri,  and with all the inducements in college basketball recruiting today, Purvis is an extraordinary individual.

Rodney, Pervis Back In The Picture, Big Maybe

Rodney McCray and Pervis Ellison.

The names of two great University of Louisville basketball players from the past,  major contributors on the school’s two national championship teams.  Wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some combination of Rodney and Pervis in a future U of L player?

Meet Rodney Purvis.

Purvis is a 6-foot-3 ninth grader at the Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., said to be the leading prospect in the recruiting class of 2013. Playing against some of the best competition in the nation, he averaged 11.5 points in six games during the recent NBA Players Association Top 100 camp.

Rodney last week let it be known via his Twitter account that U of L had expressed interest to him.

Possibly, a face to face with Rick Pitino.

But then following a flurry of responses from U of L fans and people who follow other teams. Quickly tempering expectations of our recruiting junkies.

Something to be said for his candor during a time when many recruits seem to thrive on all the fawning. So nothing to get too excited about. But the name Rodney Purvis does bring back some good memories while challenging the imagination.

The web is already cluttered with his videos, like this one.

*     *    *

Have never met Mike Rutherford, but he’s one of my favorite people. He’s the 25-year-old blogger over at Card Chronicle, far and away the most popular U of L blog in town. He was only a toddler when the University of Louisville won its last national basketball championship so he has yet to experience the ultimate. Despite the vast difference in generations, Mike and the observer have much in common, spending way too much time focusing on their favorite school. Mike talks about his journey here.

Then there are Sonja and Paul Sykes, over at the Cardinal Couple, who also eat, sleep and breathe U of L sports while giving props to women’s athletics. Ahead of the curve, before it is everyday cool.

Mr. Black and Mr. Red, over at Cardinal Laws, have some interesting and thoughtful perspectives as well. Shannon, over at Cardinal Dominance, is relentless when it comes to pursing the nitty-gritty. A newcomer is Nick Coffey, at The Cardinal Connect, and we wish him well.