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:
The contributions of Gary Walters to the Ivy League and to his beloved Tigers cannot be overstated. His ties to Princeton basketball began before the arrival of Pete Carril, and his professional role at the university continued for nearly two decades after Carril’s retirement.
Recruited as a point guard by Butch van Breda Kolff, Walters enjoyed great success at Reading (PA) High School playing for … you can’t make this stuff up … Pete Carril. A key player on Bill Bradley’s Final Four team in 1965, Walters led the 1966-67 Tigers to 25 wins and a top-five national ranking. No Tiger would win as many games for the next 30 years. A talented ball handler and passer, Walters is remembered as a tenacious defender, perhaps the best in the league over his career.
He was appointed head coach at Middlebury in 1970, moving to Union a year later, before returning to Jadwin as Carril’s top assistant from 1973 to 1975. He also coached at Dartmouth and Providence before moving into the business world.
After 12 years in the private sector Walters fulfilled his destiny in 1994, when he was appointed the Tigers’ Athletic Director. His 20-year tenure in Jadwin, overseeing one of the most ambitious intercollegiate programs in the nation, was a period of unprecedented success for the Tigers in both men’s and women’s sports. Facilities built or renovated during the Walters Administration include Princeton Stadium and Weaver Track and Field Stadium, which replaced the venerable Palmer Stadium. State-of-the-art soccer and field hockey venues were also completed in the last decade.
Walters, perhaps the first product of the Carril Cradle of Coaches, was responsible for the hiring of five more of its members to coach the Tigers between Bill Carmody, Carril’s successor, and current skipper, Mitch Henderson. No one has had a greater impact on Tiger basketball and the entire spectrum of Princeton athletics over his lifetime than Gary Walters.