As the story goes, Hakim Warrick almost never even had the opportunity to put on a Syracuse Orange uniform. The 6-foot-9 forward out of Philadelphia wasn’t a highly sought-after recruit out of high school and it wasn’t until Julius Hodge surprisingly spurned Syracuse for NC State that a scholarship would open up for him on Jim Boeheim’s club.
That move ended up being a blessing in disguise for both Syracuse and Warrick — had Hodge decided to play his college basketball in Central New York, we never would have witnessed “The Block” that helped seal Syracuse’s first and only NCAA national title.
The stillframes are frozen in time. But despite being a decade and a half removed, the biggest play in Syracuse basketball history still has Warrick feeling warm.
“It feels good to always have that,” Warrick said. “No Syracuse fan will ever let me forget it, especially come March Madness. They’re always going to talk about it. They’re always thanking me and telling me they love me so it feels good.”
Warrick will forever go down as one of the greatest players to come through the Syracuse program. He stayed four years, started on a national championship team and still ranks top five in both points and rebounding. No Syracuse player has averaged more points per game in a single season since he scored 21.4 per contest in his senior campaign.
All of those accolades and the two things Syracuse fans bring up are the block and the dunk against Texas, both of which occurred in the Final Four. Of course, that play was over 15 years ago when the expression of putting someone on a poster quite literally meant putting someone on a poster. Warrick has aged as gracefully as a cabernet in oak, but can’t help feeling old when younger guys tell him that that poster was adorned on their wall.
“It’s the block and then the dunk, those two are just memories. Sometimes you feel old meeting guys and it’s like ‘yeah I had that poster on the wall’ so it’s kind of crazy.”
Just about every March around the time of the NCAA Tournament, Warrick says someone in media reaches out to him in reference to his Syracuse playing days. In 2015 he was approached by The Player’s Tribune which gives athletes a chance to tell their stories from a first-person perspective.
He told his story of the run to the title in 2003 through his own lens. While some thought Syracuse’s youth would prove costly against a veteran Kansas team in the title game, Warrick noted that really, they were too young to understand the gravity of it.
“Somebody contacted me and I thought it was a real good idea,” Warrick said of the Tribune. “I was able to tell some things that people didn’t know or wouldn’t have.”
To think, they almost never knew. Of his perspective in the title game and of Hakim Warrick in orange.