‘He Loves This University’: Rick Barnes Compliments Chris Lofton Prior to Jersey Retirement

Chris Lofton

Chris LoftonTennessee basketball legend Chris Lofton. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee basketball legend Chris Lofton will have his jersey retired this Saturday afternoon prior to the Vols’ game against Kentucky in Knoxville.

Lofton, a native of Kentucky, didn’t receive an offer out of high school from either Kentucky or Louisville. Lofton chose Tennessee over Arkansas State and Georgetown College and the rest was history. The Maysville, Kentucky, native eventually landed at fourth place on Tennessee’s all-time scoring leaderboard with 2,131 career points.

Lofton knocked down 431 three-pointers during his career with the Vols, which is still the most three-pointers in an SEC season.

Although Rick Barnes wasn’t the coach at Tennessee during Lofton’s years, the Vols head coach spoke to the media on Thursday about the respect he has for Chris Lofton’s legacy.

“We all should be excited for Chris,” Barnes said. “When you think about, I’ve never met anyone that can say an ill thing about Chris. When you come into a situation like we did eight years ago, and you want to build something special, but you also know you need past players and people involved to help you do that, he embraced us. He really, from the time he came around, one, because he loves this university so much.”

Lofton was known for his tireless work ethic and unrivaled passion during his time at Tennessee. Both of these helped Lofton lead the Vols to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances with huge career wins over Kentucky and Texas during his time in Knoxville.

“The second thing is he loves being in the gym,” Barnes continued on to say. “I think our players had a chance up close to see a real professional go at his craft and see what he needs to do. But lay that aside, the kind of person he is and what he stands for, his love for the Lord and the way that he’s real, he’s as real as can be.”

During a practice in September, Rick Barnes surprised Lofton with the jersey retirement news in front of the team. Lofton’s reaction told the whole story as the former Tennessee legend took in the news. Whether it was on the court battling SEC rivals or off the court battling testicular cancer, Lofton has always been a stand-up person and a role model that folks can’t get enough of.

Chris knew something was up… pic.twitter.com/iiPbLHf2F0

— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) September 15, 2022

“Then you throw in the fact that he had to fight cancer,” Barnes said about Lofton. “He’s such a great person. And it’s more. The way he loves the program. I don’t know of any era that doesn’t love him because of the way he loves this place.”

Chris Lofton suited up for Tennessee from 2004 to 2008 and quickly became a legend for the Volunteers. People around the program still talk about his game-winning shot against Texas back in 2006 all the time.

Lofton will be the fifth Tennessee player to have his jersey retired when the ceremony happens this Saturday afternoon, joining Bernard King, Ernie Grunfeld, Allan Houston, and Dale Ellis.

No. 5 Tennessee will host Kentucky this Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. noon ET in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Author: Ethan Moore