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Sun Devil Athletics has announced that Alton Lister’s No. 53 will be placed in the Wells Fargo Arena rafters on Feb. 8, when the Sun Devils take on No. 13 Oregon (9-0) at 3 p.m. (FOX Sports 1).
Lister, a 2000 inductee into the Sun Devil Hall of Fame and ASU’s 2008 inductee into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor, had been told his number was going in the rafters a few years back, but coaching out of the country made it tough for a date to work. Now that he has returned to the west coast and is working for San Diego University as a Director for Pro Player Education, where he supports professional athletes compete their degrees, Feb. 8 is set.
“Alton’s career at Arizona State, his Olympic selection and an incredible pro career are examples of all that we strive for in our program and in college basketball,” notes Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek. “He played on one of the greatest Sun Devil teams in history, made history by beating the No. 1 team in the nation, was selected to represent our nation at the highest level of international basketball and played in the NBA for a very long time at a very high level. This honor serves as a great reminder of an incredible basketball career for a Sun Devil.”
ASU had announced previously that Eddie House’s No. 5 jersey would be put in the rafters on Jan. 25 when ASU takes on No. 20 Colorado (10-1). The duo will join Joe Caldwell (No. 33), Byron Scott (No. 11), Lionel Hollins (No. 33) and Fat Lever (No. 12) as men’s basketball players who have had jersey numbers honored.
The 21st overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, Lister played 17 NBA seasons and is one of three Sun Devil basketball players selected for the United States Olympic team, although his 1980 team boycotted the Moscow games. Joe Caldwell (Tokyo in 1964) and James Harden (London in 2012) are the others.
The Dallas native and 1976 Woodrow Wilson High School graduate was a starter on the Sun Devil squad which posted one of the largest defeats in NCAA history of an Associated Press top-ranked team when it won at unbeaten Oregon State 81-61 on March 7, 1981, on the final day of the regular season. The 1980-81 Sun Devils were ranked as high as third that season and his 9.7 rebounds per game was the best by a Sun Devil in a 27-year span (1978-2004). His Sun Devil teams posted records of 16-14 in 1978-79 (first year in the Pac-10), 22-7 in 1979-80 and 24-4 in 1980-81. In his final two years, ASU was 15-3 (1979-80) and 16-2 (1980-81) in the Pac-10, the top two Pac-10 win totals in school history.
A two-year starter and three-year letterman who earned honorable mention All-America honors by Associated Press and Street & Smith's in 1980-81, Lister earned All-Pac-10 honors in 1980-81 and 1979-80 (honorable mention) and was named Team Most Improved Player in 1980-81 as he averaged 15.4 points and 9.7 boards in his senior year. He was inducted into the Woodrow Wilson High School’s Hall of Fame at its 60th anniversary in 1988.