The retired numbers club of LSU men’s basketball just added another member.
Former Tigers All-American Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who was known as Chris Jackson during his playing career at LSU, has had his No. 35 jersey retired by the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Election Board, the school announced Monday morning.
The jersey will be retired at a gameday ceremony during the 2019-20 basketball season. The exact date was not announced.
Abdul-Rauf’s number will join those of four other LSU men’s basketball players hanging from the catwalk of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center: Maravich (No. 23), Shaquille O’Neal (No. 33), Durand “Rudy” Macklin (No. 40) and Bob Pettit (No. 50).
It was not immediately known whether the banner with his No. 35 on it would bear the name Jackson or Abdul-Rauf, LSU men’s basketball spokesman Kent Lowe said. Jackson changed his name after his LSU playing days when he converted to Islam.
“By a unanimous decision, Mahmoud now joins one of the most elite groups in college basketball - the five men’s basketball players whose jerseys LSU has retired,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a university news release. “He’s one of the greatest of all time at LSU and incredibly deserving of this honor.”
A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Abdul-Rauf was a first-team All-American in his two seasons at LSU (1988-89 and 1989-90). He averaged 30.2 points per game his first year, setting an NCAA single season scoring record. Along with Maravich, LSU players hold the record for most points per game as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, and for a career (Maravich).
The two-time consensus Southeastern Conference player of the year, and he scored in double figures in 63 of his 64 games at LSU, including over 20 points 52 times, over 30 points 28 times, over 40 points 11 times and over 50 points four times.
“Mahmoud is one of the greatest players in college basketball history and he is one of the nicest young men I have coached in my 44-year career,” former LSU coach Dale Brown said. “He won accolades throughout the country while being inflicted with Tourette Syndrome, a truly remarkable accomplishment.”
At the end of his collegiate career, Abdul-Rauf held the LSU all-time record for most 3-point field goals made (172), and he still holds the school single-season mark for highest free-throw percentage (91 percent).
“Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was truly a phenomenal and extremely talented athlete who I enjoyed playing with,” said O’Neal, Abdul-Rauf’s teammate for the 1989-90 season. “And because of his sacrifice and dedication to the game, it paid off. Congratulations to a great player.”
The third overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets , and Abdul-Rauf played in the league for nine seasons with the Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies. He twice led the NBA in free throw percentage, and he voted the league’s Most Improved Player in 1993.
Abdul-Rauf, 50, currently plays in the BIG3 three-on-three professional basketball league that is headquartered in Los Angeles.
“His ability to shoot and score has only been matched by those whose jerseys are already hanging from the rafters of the Maravich Center,” LSU coach Will Wade said in a statement. “He is continuing to perform on the court at a high level almost 30 years later, and we look forward to having him back to celebrate this milestone this season.”
Abdul-Rauf becomes the 14th LSU athlete or coach to have his/her jersey retired. Along with the five in men's basketball that number includes Billy Cannon, Tommy Casanova and Jerry Stovall (football); Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles (women's basketball); baseball coach Skip Bertman and baseball players Ben McDonald, Eddy Furniss and Todd Walker.