Allan Houston (’93)

Category: Accomplished Alumni | Awards

Twelve years after Allan Wade Houston Jr. (’93) watched his retired Vols basketball jersey rise into the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena, he returned to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to participate in the retirement of Chris Lofton’s (’08) jersey, an honor now held by an exclusive group of 11 UT basketball legends. As the Vols hosted Kentucky on January 14, 2023, Houston stepped on the court that helped set the foundation for his career in the NBA and his list of post-NBA achievements.

At the UT Black Alumni Reception that Houston hosted following the game, Chancellor Donde Plowman added UT’s Accomplished Alumni Award to that list and was effusive in her praise of Houston.

“Allan Houston is a legend on the court, and his contributions to not only our basketball program but the entire university continue to build on his legacy as a Volunteer,” said Plowman. “What truly sets Allan apart is the way he shows up for his community and gives back with his time and talents. His standard of excellence, his character, and his leadership are the living embodiment of the Volunteer spirit.”
During Houston’s 12-season NBA career (1993–2005), he played for the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks, which he helped lead to the 1999 NBA finals. Houston also brought home an Olympic gold medal for Team USA basketball in 2000 and was named an NBA All-Star twice. Known for his shooting ability, Houston’s career-high scoring performance was 53 points in 2003 against the LA Lakers.

“I grew up playing ball on the concrete in Alcoa, Tennessee, while visiting my dad’s family with dreams of playing at a high level,” said Houston. “Then I got to play at that level just 15 minutes away at UT. It was like coming home. My heritage there and getting to meet new challenges in front of all these people who supported me growing up made me very proud to be a Vol.”

As a student, Houston was a standout player for the Vols. He still holds school records for most points scored (2,801), most field goals (902), and most free throws (651) during a college career in men’s basketball. He’s second only to Lofton in career three-point field goals (346). He was named to the All-SEC team four times, a feat only accomplished by one other Vol—Ernie Grunfeld (’77), and he was a two-time All-American. He remains one of UT’s most decorated players.

Houston’s college career was a crucial stepping stone in his development, due in no small part to his father and coach, Wade Houston, who was head coach for the Vols from 1989 to 1994.

“My dad is a foundational fixture for me,” said Houston. “He provided a strong picture of what it means to be a man of integrity, class, and leadership. I saw how he handled it all—being the first Black head coach in SEC history, being a husband, father, mentor, and leader. There’s so much I took in that I’m not even conscious of, but I know how much it’s impacted me.

“His position as a coach in college basketball allowed me to see the magnitude of what this could be and gave me a love for the game, but I never felt pressured. He taught me that no matter what I do to just go after it.”

His father’s significant impact inspired Houston to share his blessings through the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation (AHLF), established in 2001. The foundation helps young people realize their full potential by providing mentorship, education, and life-skills programs. The foundation’s primary social impact brand, the FISLL (Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership, and Legacy) Project, has served over 1,500 participants across the country.

“The FISLL Project is a reflection and expression of my experience growing up and a culmination of my time at UT where I saw principles and values applied that lead to success,” said Houston. “And by success, I mean finding the path you’re meant to be on, the pursuit of your highest self and your highest impact. Faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership—these things gave me my path forward. I want to help young people find their best path forward so they can live better and make a bigger impact.”

In addition to his robust philanthropic work, Houston serves as basketball operations vice president over player leadership and development for the Knicks. He has been instrumental in helping build the franchise through several positions with the team’s administration over the years, including general manager for the Westchester Knicks (part of the NBA G-League).

Although Houston has many accolades from basketball, the most meaningful recognitions he earned off the court. He was named multiple times as one of The Sporting News “Good Guys in Sports.” Houston has also earned the title “Father of the Year” by the National Fatherhood Initiative in 2007, and he received the President’s Council on Service and Civic Engagement Award from President Barack Obama’s administration in 2011.

Houston still finds time to stay connected at UT, where he established the Wade Houston Scholarship in honor of his father to benefit students from his dad’s hometown of Alcoa. The scholarship has benefited many students since it was established, and as an endowment, it will continue to support Houston scholars for years to come.

“UT was a momentous time for me from a sports perspective and growth perspective,” said Houston. “So, it was pretty special to receive an Accomplished Alumni Award from the university.

“As an alum, you want to say that you took your experience on campus to propel you where you wanted to go. I’m fortunate to have that story and blessed to continue to pass it on. I’m excited to activate some things at UT that I had, and some I wish I would’ve had, and share those with current students and alumni.”