HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The number 35 hangs in the rafters at Reed Green Coliseum on the University of Southern Mississippi's campus.
The number represents 18 points and 11 rebounds per game. It also represents a 64-53 career record. The number represents the most decorated basketball player in program history.
The number 35 represents Clarence Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1988. He had four successful seasons at USM which included two NCAA tournament appearances in 1991 and 1992. In 1991 the Golden Eagles went 21-9 before losing to NC State in the national tournament. That year would be significant for Weatherspoon, as he would be the focus of a five-page feature in Sports Illustrated.
Clarence would put up the best numbers of his college career in 1992. he averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds. He would also become the first Southern Miss basketball player to have his jersey retired.
Weatherspoon's accomplishments at USM include three Metro conference player of the year awards. He is the only three time winner of the award.
"I think Doc has instilled a great work environment playing under the circumstances," Weatherspoon said as he addressed the team on Clarence Weatherspoon night.
Clarence Weatherspoon's life would change forever when the Philadelphia 76'ers drafted him ninth overall in the 1992 NBA draft. Weatherspoon would become the fifth Golden Eagle to play in the NBA. It was a dream realized, but he had no idea what would come next.
Weatherspoon entered a volatile situation in Philadelphia. The team traded away their best player Charles Barkley just three days before drafting him. Weatherspoon was compared to Barkley on a daily basis before the draft, as the two played similar games and were labeled undersized for their positions.
Clarence Weatherspoon would spend over a decade in the NBA before retiring in 2005. He averaged over 11 points and seven rebounds per game.
Weatherspoon still attends Southern Miss basketball games, and he was recently inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. The perfect career defining moment for the man affectionately known as, "spoon"
Facts about Spoon
- Scored a total of 10,483 points in the NBA
- Played 915 games in the NBA
- First basket ball player to have jersey retired at USM
- All time rebounding, blocked shots, minutes leader in USM history
- Scored over 2000 points and grabbed over 1000 rebound in NCAA career