Last Ball in U-Hall: Wilkinson Created Buzz at Virginia

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The jam-packed crowd in Memorial Gym had been eagerly awaiting the start of Virginia’s 1954-55 season finale against Duke, some for as long as two hours. But when time finally came for tip-off the fans were forced to wait another quarter hour before the opening whistle.

Buzzy Wilkinson, shown here rising for a shot in Mem Gym, finished with 2,233 points in three seasons at Virginia.

Right before the contest was set to begin, team captain Richard “Buzzy” Wilkinson was called to center court, just as he had been before the start of every game, the place went dark and a booming voice filled the arena, announcing the Seven Society had requested that Wilkinson’s No. 14 be retired.

“People stood up and clapped for 15 minutes, maybe longer,” Wilkinson said. “I had chills going up and down my back.”

Sound a little excessive? Try this for excessive: Wilkinson averaged 32.1 points per game that season, including a full ACC schedule, without having the luxury of playing with a 3-point line. He remains third on the career scoring list at Virginia despite playing for only three seasons and a total of 79 games, finishing with 2,233 points.

Wilkinson still holds several Virginia records more than 50 years after finishing his career, including most points in a season (898), highest season scoring average (32.1), and highest career scoring average (28.6).

Forget about 15 minutes. It’s surprising that the Virginia faithful didn’t applaud for at least half an hour.

Wilkinson received offers to play at more than a dozen schools in 1951, but was drawn to Virginia because of it’s academic reputation and family ties to the university (both his father and grandfather attended medical school at UVa). After sitting out his freshman season, he led the team with a 22.7 points per game average in 1952-53 as the Cavaliers struggled to