Gilliam's No. 35 Retired Tuesday
Nov. 6, 2007
LAS VEGAS (AP) - UNLV retired Armon Gilliam's jersey No. 35 on Tuesday night at halftime of a 77-47 exhibition game victory against Division-II Washburn.
Gilliam, who helped the Rebels reach the 1987 Final Four, is the school's sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,855 points in three seasons. Nicknamed 'The Hammer' for his prowess inside, the 6-foot-9 forward is also sixth in rebounds with 890.
"It's nice to be counted among some of the better players here at UNLV," Gilliam said.
He averaged 23.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a senior in 1986-87 to help the Rebels finish 37-2. They lost to Indiana in the national -semifinals, but Gilliam's legacy as one of the school's best inside players was set.
"Armon was such a big force for us on the inside," said Freddie Banks, the shooting guard on the 1987 team. "Once he got the ball down low, it opened everything up for me on the wing."
Gilliam, the 1987 Big West Conference player of the year, rewrote the school's record book. Today, 20 seasons after he last wore the scarlet and gray, Gilliam is still fourth all-time in field goal percentage at .580 and sixth in field goals made with 716.
Not bad for someone who was primarily a football and track athlete growing up in Pittsburgh. He was a reserve on the basketball team at Independence Junior College in Kansas when coach Jerry Tarkanian's staff discovered him while recruiting another player.
Fans twice interrupted his acceptance speech with chants of "Hammer, Hammer," but saying he wanted to finish before the tears came, Gilliam gave special thanks to Tarkanian.
"He gave a kid from Pittsburgh that was a football player a chance to play at a major university," Gilliam said.
The Rebels continued the celebration with the easy victory.Joe Darger had a game-high 19 points and the Rebels held Washburn to nine first-half points.
The Rebels scored the game's first 17 points and Washburn missed its first 12 shots.
UNLV opens its regular season on Friday at home against Montana State.
Washburn got a team-high 14 points from Darnell Kimbell and Paul Myers added 14 rebounds.