After a successful high school career at Friends' Central School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, Warrick moved on to play at Syracuse University. At Syracuse, under coach Jim Boeheim and along with freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, he won a national title in 2003 as a sophomore. It was the first title in Orange basketball history. Warrick is probably most notable for his game-winning block against Kansas with 1.5 seconds remaining.
During his career at Syracuse, Warrick would routinely electrify crowds with his ballerina-like post moves and highlight reel dunks.
In 2005, as a senior at Syracuse, he won the Big East Men's Basketball Player of the Year award. He also was, along with McNamara, named to the First Team All Big East. Hakim's last game came in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament when 4th seed Syracuse was upset 60-57 in overtime by 13th seeded Vermont. Warrick had 21 points in the defeat.
Although Warrick was considered too lanky for a pure post player, filling out at only 219 lb (99.5 kg) on a 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) frame, he made up for this with his outstanding athleticism. Between his junior and senior seasons, Warrick spent considerable time working on his face-up game and jump shot, which for the first time makes him a scoring threat away from the basket. Many had projected him to be a lottery pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, and it is unclear why he eventually slipped into the late first-round. Nevertheless, with his rare combination of size and quickness, Warrick may prove to be a headache for rival small forwards in the years to come.
On January 31, 2006, Warrick was named to be one of the contestants in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest All-Star Weekend. He came in third place, behind New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson and Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala.