Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, we cover one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history.
When Butch van Breda Kolff left Princeton for the glitz and glamor of the NBA after the 1967 season, the Tiger tank was anything but empty. Among the players Pete Carril found on his roster were two future NBA draftees, John Hummer and the subject of this profile, Geoff Petrie.
Petrie was, quite simply, the best player I have ever seen in a Tiger uniform. I did not see Bradley in person, and all must acknowledge that he was the most important player, if not the greatest, in the history of the League. Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that Petrie is the best player ever. (Paul Hutter makes it in his wonderful 2014 volume, The Golden Age of Ivy League Basketball.)
His three Tiger teams are generally considered among the top 25 in the 60-year life of the Ivy League. Twice an All-Ivy first-teamer, and once selected for the second team, Petrie led the League in scoring in the 1968-69 season (23.9 points per game), as the Tigers swept the League with a perfect 14-0 record. His impressive career total of 1,321 points was garnered in three seasons (freshmen ineligible at the time), prior to the shot clock and the three-point field goal. He averaged more than 20 points per game over his college career, a remarkable achievement in the “Princeton Offense” of Pete Carril.
It was as a professional that Petrie’s greatness emerged. Taken in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers, Petrie was destined to play far from the media centers of New York and Los Angeles. He was named co-Rookie of the Year (with Dave Cowens) after the 1970-71 NBA season, and scored at a rate of 21.8 points per game over six seasons, twice reaching the 50-point mark in a single game. His career was sadly cut short by a devastating knee injury.
Petrie entered the Blazers’ front office in 1985, first as a broadcaster and later as a very successful general manager. Moving to the Sacramento Kings, Petrie was twice named the NBA Executive of the Year. He retired from basketball in 2013.