Sonics rookie forward Nick Collison
will earn the ultimate honor for a college basketball player Tuesday night, when his #4 uniform is retired by Kansas University.
Collisonís jersey will join those of KUís greats.
Jeff Jacobsen/KUAC File
Before being selected by the Sonics in the first round of this Juneís draft, Collison completed a stellar-four year career for the Jayhawks. As a senior last year, Collison averaged 18.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as Kansas advanced to the NCAA championship game. For his efforts, Collison was named NABC Player of the Year, consensus first-team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year by the leagueís the coaches.
"Individually, it's the top, sure," Collison said of having his jersey retired. "Kansas has such a great tradition and there's been so many great players who've gone through there. They've probably got a tradition as good or better than any place in the country. For them to recognize you, that's a huge honor."
Collisonís consensus selection to the All-American team and his Player of the Year honors qualified him to have his jersey retired under Kansasí merit system. The Jayhawks first retired jerseys prior to the 1992-93 season, when Clyde Lovellete, Danny Manning, B.H. Born, Paul Endacott, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie Black were honored. At the time, jersey retirement was limited to those named Player of the Year, NCAA Tournament MVP, or four-time All-Americans.
"They're all legends, not only Kansas legends, but for college basketball period, across the country," Collison commented on that list of names. "It's just unbelievable when you go to Kansas, the stories, the tradition. The guy who invented the game coached there, (Adolph) Rupp was there, Dean Smith was there, Larry Brown was there, it's an unbelievable tradition."
Prior to last season, those qualifications were amended to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-Americans and Academic All-Americans of the Year. Under the new system, Collison will join the inaugural honorees and Ray Evans, honored in 1997, in having his jersey retired.
Collisonís jersey will be retired at halftime of the Kansas-Michigan State game Tuesday, which will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Collison is currently rehabbing his left shoulder, which was surgically repaired Oct. 14. Before traveling to the University of Kansas, he is scheduled to head to New York Monday for an appointment with Dr. Russell Warren, who performed his shoulder surgery. At that time, a date may be set for Dr. Warren to operate on Collison's right shoulder.