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Arizona Wildcats to retire Jason Terry’s jersey number

The question was not if, but when.

The University of Arizona athletic department supplied the answer Saturday.

Arizona Athletics will be retiring the No. 31 jersey of Jason Terry on Thursday, Feb. 19, when the men’s basketball team hosts USC.

Terry, 37, was a member of Arizona’s 1997 national championship team. He posted 10.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game as a sophomore that season.

The guard went on to play two more seasons with the Wildcats, earning consensus first-team All-America honors for his 1998-99 performance, a year when he led the Pac-10 in points (21.9), assists (5.5) and steals (2.8) per game and was second in field goals and three-pointers.

“I am extremely blessed and honored to have my jersey retired,” Terry said in a statement. “It is not only a tribute to what I accomplished as a student-athlete at UA, but to all the people who helped me on my journey. I want to extend special thanks to President Hart, Greg Byrne, Lute Olson, Jim Rosborough, Jennifer Mewes, the Pac-12 Conference and all Wildcat fans. Bear Down!”

The 6-foot-2 guard was the first player in school history to score 1,000 points and record 200 steals in his career. His 245 steals still rank first in the program, and put him at fifth all-time in the Pac-12. Additionally, Terry is fourth in school history in three-pointers (193), eighth in assists (493) and 18th in points scored (1,461).

“When you think about the all-time greats of Arizona basketball, Jason’s name comes to mind immediately,” Vice President for Athletics Greg Byrne said in a statement.

Current UA coach Sean Miller also weighed in on the news on Twitter.

Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 10th overall pick in 1999, Terry is now 16th season in the NBA, currently in his first year with the Houston Rockets, his fifth team in the pros. Not only did the combo guard win a championship in college, but picked up an NBA ring with the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks.

Terry boasts NBA career averages of 15.2 points, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The guard was named the Sixth Man of the Year for the 2008-09 season as a member of the Mavericks, and he won a Player of the Week honors in January 2005 — his first year in Dallas.

The Seattle native will become the fifth former UA player to have his jersey honored at McKale Center. The athletic department said it retires jerseys with the number and the name of the player who made it famous during his time at the school.