VCU to retire Bradford Burgess’s jersey

When Burgess returns to the Siegel Center to have his legacy solidified in the rafters of the house that he decorated, he will be remembered as a foundation, a pioneer, and “Big Shot Brad.”

1,684 points. 734 rebounds. 231 3-pointers. 108 wins. 146 consecutive starts. Three NCAA Tournament bids, six NCAA Tournament wins, a CBI Championship, and a Final Four.

These are just a few of the factors that contributed to VCU’s decision to retire Bradford Burgess’s jersey1 on February 21st before the Rams host Massachusetts at noon, but Burgess’s impact on VCU’s success is bigger than can be captured by any number.

When Burgess returns to the Siegel Center to have his legacy solidified in the rafters of the house that he decorated, he will be remembered as a foundation, a pioneer, and “Big Shot Brad.”

Iron Man

A product of Benedictine High School just miles from the Monroe Park campus, Burgess earned a starting role from day one on a team that almost unbelievably included Eric Maynor, Larry Sanders, Joey Rodriguez, T.J. Gwynn, Brandon Rozzell, and Ed Nixon.

Burgess would earn the nickname “Iron Man” because of his longevity and consistency while starting 146 consecutive games and breaking Patrick Ewing’s NCAA record for consecutive starts. But maybe “The Rock” is even more fitting, as Burgess laid down an unshakable foundation for future success. Whether it was transitioning from Coach Grant to Coach Smart or surviving the abysmal month of February 2011, Burgess was a dependable force.

In no season was his role as a leader more important than in 2012, when he was the lone senior. In the shadow of the 2011 run to the Final Four, outside of Burgess VCU lost 76% of scoring, 58% of rebounding, 77% of assists, and 65% of steals, fielded the 12th youngest team in the nation, and gone were the names Skeen, Rodriguez, Rozzell, Nixon, and Veal.

After a rocky 3-3 start, he led the Rams to a school-record 29 wins, a CAA Tournament Title, and a win over a Wichita State team in the NCAA Tournament that was heavily considered a VCUesque sleeper. He accomplished all of this with unrivaled humility and class.

“I really feel blessed and fortunate to be a part of the teams I was part of and to play with the players that were here, and to accomplish what we achieved. None of this would be possible without them. It’s a great honor. I just think about a number of guys who are probably just as deserving, if not more deserving than me. I’m really honored to be in this position and mentioned in the same breath as the guys whose names are already in the rafters.”Bradford Burgess


Maybe Burgess’s biggest contribution to the current success of VCU is pioneering the undersized power forward position for players like Treveon Graham. The skill sets of both players is paramount to VCU’s offense because it creates mismatches that punish opponents.

This was most evident when Burgess averaged 15.7 PPG, a team-high 7.0 RPG, and shot 59 percent (17-of-29) from 3-point range during VCU’s run to the Final Four en route to a spot on the 2011 All-Southwest Regional Team. Highlight reels of front-courts including the Morris twins (Phoenix Suns), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic), JaJuan Johnson, and Matt Howard chasing Burgess around the court will live on in eternity.

Big Shot Brad

More than anything else, Burgess will be remembered for his ability to hit clutch shots, earning him the nickname “Big Shot Brad.” As a freshman he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to beat crosstown rival, Richmond. Against Florida State in the Sweet 16, he went off for 26 points (6-7 3PFG) and hit a game-winning layup in overtime. With 1:33 remaining against Wichita State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, he hit a game-altering 3-pointer. It’s a tired expression in sports but there’s simply no other way to put it: Bradford Burgess is a flat-out winner.

Anyone associated with VCU doesn’t need to see Burgess’s name in the rafters to remember all of these unbelievable accomplishments, but the jersey will finally go where it belongs: next to Eric Maynor, Gerald Henderson, Calvin Duncan, and Kendrick Warren–as one of the greatest to ever wear the Black & Gold.

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Photos by: Will Weaver

  1. The decision to retire jerseys is made by the entire staff. VCU retires jerseys instead of numbers. Jordan Burgess, Bradford’s younger brother, can continue to wear #20 for the next two-and-a-half seasons if he wants. Of the four jerseys currently retired, three of the numbers have been worn by other players since the retirement of the jerseys. Eric Maynor’s #3 is the only number to not be worn since, but that is not necessarily intentional. 
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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