Richard "Buzzy" Wilkinson, the first Virginia basketball player to have his number retired and one of the all-time great scorers in the history of the program, passed away on Friday, January 15. He was 83.
Born November 18, 1932, Wilkinson graduated from the University in 1955 as a holder of multiple school and conference records, including Virginia's record for career points scored at 2,233. This was in an era where freshmen were not permitted to compete on varsity teams, making that figure even more eye-popping. His school career scoring record stood until 1981, when Jeff Lamp claimed the all-time mark. Wilkinson currently sits third behind Lamp (2,317) and Bryant Stith (2,516).
His career average of 28.6 points per game still stands, six decades later, as a record for both Virginia and the Atlantic Coast Conference. He averaged 30.1 points per game in 1953-54 and 32.1 the following year, in the process becoming the first collegiate player to average over 30 points per game in two straight seasons.
All of that came three decades before the advent of the three-point line.
He was just the second All-American in UVa history when he received the honor in 1955. That same year, his jersey No. 14 was retired.
Originally from Pineville, W.Va., Wilkinson received his law degree from UVa in 1962 after serving a tour of duty as a draftee in the United States Army. Following law school, he became a trust officer at First National Bank, now known as First Century Bank, in Bluefield, West Virginia. He spent his entire career at the bank, eventually rising his way to the top as president and chief executive officer.
In 1975, Wilkinson was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in Portsmouth in 1975. In 1980, he was named to Sports Illustrated's five-man Silver Anniversary Team.
Funeral Services for R. W. "Buzzy" Wilkinson will be held privately. The family requests that in lieu of flowers any memorial donation be made to Christ Episcopal Church Food Pantry, 200 Duhring Street, Bluefield, WV 24701.