February 8, 2009
STARKVILLE -- To a man who has given much to Mississippi State University for 50 years after his college basketball career ended, the school returned the favor to Bailey Howell on Saturday.
Howell''s No. 52 jersey was retired at halftime of Mississippi State''s game against Arkansas. He is the first player in school history to have his jersey retired.
"I don''t think a school could give you any higher honor to a former player than retire his jersey," Howell said. "When you finish playing for a school, I''ve heard people say they tend to forget you, but that hasn''t been the case at Mississippi State. They''ve continued throughout the years to honor me and support me. As the years come and go, it gets even better. I''m proud of this institution. Mississippi State is special."
Howell, who played for the Bulldogs from 1957-59, was joined at midcourt by his wife Mary Lou and MSU athletic director Greg Byrne for the ceremony.
"There''s no greater ambassador to Mississippi State than Bailey and there aren''t many schools that has the accolades that he does," Byrne said. "We felt it was a well-deserved tribute to him and his family. It''s important for us to show our history and there is nobody more important to our basketball history than Bailey Howell."
The numbers prove Byrne''s point.
Howell''s 1,277 career rebounds remains a school-record, while he is second on the all-time chart in scoring with 2,030 career points.
In other career marks, Howell holds records in scoring average (27.1 ppg), rebounding average (17 rpg), free throws made (682) and free throws attempted (892). He holds game records of 47 points against Union in 1958 and 34 rebounds against LSU in 1957.
Howell was a two-time All-American and three-time, first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection. He helped the Bulldogs to their first SEC Championship in 1958-59..
"We finally won the SEC my senior year," Howell said. "We were a very deliberate team. We didn''t run or put up a lot of shots.
When I finished taking all of my shots, there weren''t many left over. My teammates were really something. Everyone wants to shoot and there weren''t a lot of shots to go around."
Byrne presented Howell with a frame jersey and a banner was unveiled from the rafters of Humphrey Coliseum with Howell''s name, number and the years he played at Mississippi State.
"It''s very hard to put into words how much I appreciate it and how special and how high this honor is," Howell said.