Kirk Hinrich will see a familiar face in the stands Sunday afternoon when his jersey No. 10 is hung for eternity in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.
Fellow Iowa native and former Kansas University teammate Nick Collison, whose No. 4 was hoisted high in the sky in 2003, will return to Lawrence for the ceremony, which will take place at halftime of the KU-Missouri game, set for a 1 p.m. tipoff.
“I think it’s cool. He’s one of my best friends,” Iowa Falls native Collison, a power forward with the Oklahoma City Thunder, said of Sioux City’s Hinrich, a point guard/shooting guard with the Chicago Bulls.
Both the Bulls and Thunder have off days Sunday.
Collison and Hinrich, who were in the same recruiting class as three-year KU player Drew Gooden, led KU to a 113-29 record from 1999-2003, winning two Big 12 titles and reaching two Final Fours in that span.
Is it fitting the players often referred to as one (“Nick and Kirk”) both will have their jerseys hanging in the fieldhouse?
“I think so. Drew is up there, too,” Collison added of the Sacramento Kings forward who had his jersey hung in 2003. “We all came in the same class. It’s great for Kirk and his family.”
Collison said he believes Hinrich — who is ninth in KU career scoring, fourth in assists, sixth in steals, third in most minutes played, third in three-pointers made, fifth in career free-throw percentage and 13th in career field goals made — deserves the highest honor that can be accorded a Jayhawk player.
“I think he’s one of the best ever to play at KU for sure,” Collison said of Hinrich, who hit a school-record 50.5 percent of his threes his sophomore season. “I’m not exactly sure what the criteria is, but he definitely deserves to be up there.”
The original criteria for retiring a player’s jersey included being named college basketball’s player of the year, MVP of the NCAA Tournament or a four-time All-American. The criteria was changed prior to the 2002-03 season to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-Americans and Academic All-American of the Year.
In the 2004-05 season, the Forgotten Five — Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth, Bill Bridges, Darnell Valentine and Walt Wesley — were deemed worthy of jersey retirement with no criteria taken into consideration.
They were All-Americans who earned diplomas at KU.
KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony on Wednesday explained KU’s current policy regarding the hanging of jerseys in the rafters.
“We know there are written guidelines and we are using them as just that — guidelines — rather than using them as hard-and-fast rules at this time,” Marchiony said.
“We think every Kansas fan realizes the important part Kirk played in a very successful era in Kansas basketball, and you won’t get any arguments about whether Kirk’s jersey belongs up in the rafters.”
Hinrich, 28, who was a first-team All-Big 12 pick his junior and senior seasons and a third-team All-American his senior year, was selected by the Bulls with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
“Without question, he’s one of the greatest to ever play here,” KU coach Bill Self said. “His teams won, and he was a huge part of that. He’s been a great pro and is one of the great ambassadors of this university.”
• Waiting list for NCAAs: The Big 12 Conference and its member institutions have partnered with Sprint Center to launch an online waiting list for those who wish to buy all-session tickets for 2009 NCAA Div. I Tournament first and second-round games on March 19 and 21 at Sprint Center.
Subject to availability, fans may purchase a maximum of four all-session tickets. Seating locations cannot be guaranteed and will be assigned randomly regardless of entry date. Tickets are subject to availability. Starting at noon today, fans may complete and submit registration forms at sprintcenter.com.