Former Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith ‘humbled’ to have jersey retired in Rupp Arena


Former Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith who led the Wildcats to the national championship in 1998 will finally have his number retired by the university.

In a move that is long overdue, Tubby Smith will finally have his name hanging among the other Kentucky basketball legends in the rafters of Rupp Arena.

The university announced on Tuesday night that Smith will be enshrined with the legends of Lexington with a No. 1 being added to the rafters when High Point visits on Dec. 31.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart revealed the news to Smith during a virtual appearance on BBN Tonight, saying, “We’re going to add one Tubby Smith to the rafters of Rupp Arena, and we’re absolutely excited about it.”

Smith has coached High Point since 2018, and when he brings his team to Kentucky on New Year’s Eve, he will become the 45th jersey to be raised to the Rupp Arena rafters.

“It’s very humbling,” Smith said in a virtual appearance on the “BBN Tonight” television show. “We’re very grateful to have had an opportunity to lead that program.

“Some wonderful people there. Wonderful fans. You can’t find better people.”

Reactions to Tubby Smith getting his number retired at Rupp Arena

Smith was an assistant under head coach Rick Pitino from 1989-1991 before leaving for head coaching opportunities at Tulsa and later Georgia before returning to Kentucky after Pitino left for the NBA in 1997.

There, Smith quickly won a national championship in his first season in 1997-1998, won five regular-season SEC titles, five SEC Tournaments and had a 263-83 record in his tenure.

Smith was elected to the Kentucky Hall of Fame in 2013.

Even an Indiana basketball fan has respect and admiration for the man Smith was on and off the court.

Kentucky basketball fans can expect the Dec. 31 game vs. High Point to be one of the hottest tickets this season because of Smith being honored.

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