Ceremony honoring former VCU player Charles ‘Jabo’ Wilkins is Feb. 28

Fred Jeter | 2/23/2023, 6 p.m.
There is lot of Richmond basketball history hanging from the Siegel Center rafters ... and more is coming soon.

There is lot of Richmond basketball history hanging from the Siegel Center rafters ... and more is coming soon.

Three of the six retired VCU jerseys honor Rams from Richmond’s public and private high schools. And on Feb. 28, Charles “Jabo” Wilkins will become the fourth Downtowner to “reach the rafters.”

The ceremony is planned for halftime during VCU’s final regular season home game against St. Louis.

It seems only fair that two Richmond legends — Bobby Dandridge and Gerald Henderson — are expected to be on hand for the occasion.

Wilkins, who died in 2018, played with Dandridge at Maggie Walker and was a role model for Henderson.

Dandridge went on to star at Norfolk State and later enjoyed a brilliant NBA career that earned him a slot in the Nai- smith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Henderson went from Huguenot High School to VCU, and later earned three NBA championship rings.

Wilkins played during a golden era of Walker hoops in the mid-to-late 1960s when Virginia’s Black and white schools were segregated by race.

Under Coach Stretch Gardner, Green Dragons stars during that timefame in- cluded Cravelyn Williams (who went to Virginia Union), Dandridge and Gerald Smith (Norfolk State), David Franklin (East Carolina), Robert McCray (Kentucky State) and Jesse Dark, who later played with Wilkins at VCU.

VCU’s decision to retire Wilkins’ No. 40 – for the second time — did not come easy, despite his glowing résumé. No. 40 was first retired Feb. 21, 1971, at Franklin Street Gym, but the honor fell through the cracks over the many decades and changing coaches, administrators and playing venues.

Wilkins’ home performances came his first two seasons in old Franklin Street, and then as a senior at the newer Franklin Street. VCU hoops largely moved to the Richmond Coliseum the next season.

Encouraging VCU officials to do the right thing was largely the work of the Maggie Walker Class of ’66, with Calvin Rasberry, Lannie Martin and Hassan Muhammad in lead roles, and also a “Justice for Jabo” project supported by a loving network of friends, family and the Richmond Free Press.