The LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Election Board unanimously approved the jersey retirement of former LSU men’s basketball All-American Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf — known as Chris Jackson during his playing day at LSU.
Abdul-Rauf’s No. 35 will join Bob Pettit’s No. 50, Pete Maravich’s No. 23, Rudy Macklin’s No. 40 and Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 33 as retired jerseys in LSU men’s basketball history.
Abdul-Rauf’s former head coach, and teammate, were thrilled with LSU’s decision to retire No. 35.
“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,” Brown said. ”He won accolades throughout the country while being inflicted with Tourette Syndrome, a truly remarkable accomplishment. He now becomes only the fifth LSU basketball player to have his jersey retired. Wow, what a group! Pettit, Maravich, Macklin, O’Neal and now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.”
O’Neal, who’s jersey was retired in 2000, was equally as ecstatic.
“Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was truly a phenomenal and extremely talented athlete who I enjoyed playing with,” O’Neal said. “And because of his sacrifice and dedication to the game, it paid off. Congratulations to a great player.”
The jersey retirement will take pace during a gameday ceremony during the upcoming season.
Abdul-Rauf was named a first-team All-American in 1989 and 1990 at LSU, becoming in 1989 just the second freshman to receive first-team All-America recognition from the Associated Press.
Abdul-Rauf averaged 30.2 points per game during the 1988-89 season, and he is still the only freshman in college basketball history to average over 30 points per game.
Abdul-Rauf was a two-time consensus SEC Player of the Year, 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.
At the end of his record-setting career, he held the LSU all-time record for most three-point field goals made (172), and he still holds the school single-season mark for highest free-throw percentage (91 percent).
“Congratulations to Mahmoud on a well-deserved honor,” said Abdul-Rauf’s teammate Ricky Blanton. “He was a special player at LSU and brought a ton of excitement to the PMAC. I was fortunate to play with Mahmoud when he was a freshman at LSU.”
Blanton added, “He took college basketball by storm, and I still have not seen a freshman player in college basketball average 30.2 points per game like Mahmoud did. Mahmoud was a great scorer with a lightning-quick cross over and could shoot from anywhere on the floor. He was a tremendous player in transition, and it was fun to watch him perform on the basketball court.”
Abdul-Rauf was the third overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, and he played in the league for nine seasons with the Nuggets, the Sacramento Kings and the Vancouver Grizzlies. He twice led the NBA in free throw percentage, and he voted the league’s Most Improved Player in 1993.
According to LSU Director of Athletics Scott Woodward, the decision to retire Abdul-Rauf’s decision was an easy one.
“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,” Woodward said. “He’s one of the greatest of all time at LSU and incredibly deserving of this honor.”