WKU to retire Courtney Lee’s jersey on Jan. 22 at UTEP Game


In the sports world, you often hear about “generational players” – a player whose impact on a team is so great that his name becomes synonymous with the team’s success during that era. These players don’t come along often, but when they do they are impossible to forget.

Courtney Lee is one of those players.

More from Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

It is impossible to have an in-depth conversation about the history of WKU basketball without bringing up Lee’s name, and for good reason. During his WKU career, Lee tied WKU’s all-time scoring record (2,238 points) and led the Hilltoppers to an appearance in the Sweet 16. He was the Sun Belt Conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2005 and was a three-time first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection. As a senior, he was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and was named an honorable mention AP All-American.

With the awards and accolades Lee received during his time on the Hill, it should come as no surprise that WKU will honor him by retiring his No. 32 jersey at the Jan. 22 game against UTEP.

The WKU Athletics Department announced the news via Twitter earlier today and in a release on the WKU Athletics web site:

In the release, Athletic Director Todd Stewart made the following statement about Lee’s return:

"We are honored to have Hilltopper legend Courtney Lee return to Diddle Arena for the much-deserved retirement of his jersey. Courtney is an outstanding person and player whose presence enhanced our program and university and brought significant notoriety to each. While earning his degree, Courtney’s historic individual accomplishments on the court also resulted in equally significant team achievements. This will be a great night, and we look forward to having Courtney and his family return to Diddle Arena for this special occasion."

Lee responded with the following:

"I am truly honored. I enjoyed my time on The Hill and am grateful to have played in front of the fans in Bowling Green. I thank my teammates and the entire coaching staff, my academic advisor Ms. Dixie (Mahurin) and Danny Rumph and the Rumph family for helping to guide me in becoming the man I am today. I would also like to give credit to Jim Clark, President (Gary) Ransdell and Travis Hudson and everyone else that was a part of helping me reach this goal. This is a true blessing for my family and me."

Lee will become just the tenth Hilltopper to have his jersey retired, joining other legends like Jim McDaniels (whom he is tied with for the all-time scoring record), Clem Haskins, John Oldham and long-time play-by-play announcer Wes Strader.

Lee started all 127 games he played for the Hilltoppers (second-most all-time), and ranks first all-time at WKU in minutes played (3,957). Additionally, he ranks in the top-seven all-time in the following categories:

  • Scoring average (17.6 ppg, 7th)
  • Field goals (802, 3rd)
  • Three-point field goals (245, 2nd)
  • Three-point field goal percentage (.401, 6th)
  • Free throws (389, 7th)
  • Free throw percentage (.8172, 2nd)
  • Steals (242, 2nd)

Professionally, the Orlando Magic selected Lee with the 22nd pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. In seven seasons he has played for the Magic, Nets, Rockets, Celtics and Grizzlies, and has collected 250 starts.