ASU fans of a certain age (including this writer) remember Lister fondly from his days in Tempe in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Dallas native was a key component of coach Ned Wulk’s 1980-81 squad, which reached a No. 3 national ranking that season.
Lister’s 9.7 rebounds per game average was the best by an Arizona State player during the period of 1978-2004. His teams posted records of 16-14 (1978-79), 22-7 (1979-80) and 24-4 (1980-81). In Lister’s final two years at ASU, the Sun Devils were 15-3 (1979-80) and 16-2 (1980-81) in the Pac-10, the top two conference win totals in school history.
“Alton’s career at Arizona State, his Olympic selection and an incredible pro career are examples of all that we strive for in our program and in college basketball,” said ASU head coach Herb Sendek. “He played on one of the greatest Sun Devil teams in history, made history by beating the No. 1 team in the nation, was selected to represent our nation at the highest level of international basketball and played in the NBA for a very long time at a very high level. This honor serves as a great reminder of an incredible basketball career for a Sun Devil.”
A two-year starter and three-year letterman that earned honorable mention All-America honors by Associated Press and Street & Smith’s in 1980-81, Lister earned All-Pac-10 honors in 1980-81 and 1979-80 (honorable mention), and was named Team Most Improved Player in 1980-81.
Lister was the 21st overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. He played 17 NBA seasons and is one of three ASU hoopsters named to the United States Olympic team. Joe Caldwell and James Harden are the others.