Former VCU hoops star returns for academic, athletic honors

Kendrick Warren, the most prolific scorer in Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball history, is taking his place among the program’s elite on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, he also will take his place among VCU’s newest class of graduates.

Warren will have his No. 23 jersey retired at halftime of the Rams’ 7:30 p.m. contest with crosstown rival Richmond — a game known as the Farm Bureau Insurance Black & Blue Classic — at the Alltel Pavilion at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Warren’s jersey will be hung directly above mid-court, the most prestigious spot in the arena. Warren will also be on the floor of the Siegel Center at 10 a.m. on Saturday to participate in fall commencement exercises, picking up a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Warren finished his VCU basketball career with 1,858 points — the most in school history. Eleven years after his last game in a Rams’ uniform, Warren is still listed among the program's career leaders in 11 statistical categories and among the single-season leaders in five statistical categories.

Warren, a Richmond native, has always been an exceptional athlete. He was a McDonald's All-American at Thomas Jefferson High School, as well as an All-Colonial District, All-Metro, All-Central Region, and All-Group AAA selection. He averaged a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds as a senior for the Vikings, while leading his prep squad to a regional title and a berth in the state tournament.

But Warren was not finished making his mark on the Richmond area. After his interscholastic playing days were over, the 6-foot-8 forward decided to remain close to home and attend VCU.

Warren, who had been heavily recruited out of high school, immediately made an impact at VCU. As a rookie, Warren was named the Sun Belt Conference's Freshman of the Year and was a first-team, all-conference selection. His 488 points remain the most scored by a freshman in the program's history. Moreover, he led the Rams in 13 statistical categories, registering 10 double-doubles. Warren netted 20-plus points on nine different occasions. And that was just as a freshman.

Over the next three years, Warren continued to rewrite the Ram record books. The four-year letter winner, who started 105 of his 106 games played, became the first player in school history to lead the Rams in both scoring and rebounding in four consecutive seasons, while earning first-team all-conference honors in four straight years. Warren produced 95 career double-digit scoring outings, had 39 20-plus scoring games and one 30-plus scoring contest. He posted 48 double-figure rebounding games, including two outings with 20 rebounds. He led VCU in scoring 54 times and in rebounding on 74 separate occasions. Warren finished his career with 45 double-doubles and the school record for field goals made, 770.

Following his four-year tenure with the Rams, Warren's talents opened a plethora of doors for him in the professional ranks. He was invited to NBA camps and recruited by international scouts. Warren played in the Continental Basketball Association in the United States for several years, before heading overseas to compete in Sweden, England, France, Brazil and Finland.

After his globe-trotting days were over, Warren returned home to Richmond to complete his undergraduate degree at VCU — a degree he started as a freshman in 1990. He left in 1994 to pursue his athletic interests, and then decided to finish college, walk across the stage and collect his hard-earned diploma.

Warren continued his involvement with basketball while attending VCU. He currently plays for the American Basketball Association's Richmond Generals, who play all of their home games in the Alltel Pavilion — the same arena where Warren's collegiate career will now always be celebrated.