Ivy 60 for 60: Kit Mueller

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Kit Mueller graduated in 1991 as Princeton’s second all-time leading scorer behind only Bill Bradley. He dished eight assists in each of his three NCAA Tournament games as a sophomore, junior and senior.

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 piranha Princeton basketball history:

Kit Mueller is a near-perfect prototype of a player to perform in Pete Carril’s “Princeton Offense.” Ironically, his college career almost did not happen. His story reads like something from one of Clair Bee’s marvelous sports novels of the 1950s.

A native of the Chicago area, Kit attracted a lot of Division I interest, with his tremendous skill set and lanky 6’7” frame. Even Clair Bee could not have imagined that one of his heroes might sever his Achilles tendon after accidentally smashing an aquarium holding his pet piranhas. But that’s exactly what happened to Mueller late in his senior year of high school. Needless to report, the D1 recruiters quickly lost interest. Mueller gained admission to Princeton on the assumption that he needed a high quality education since he was not at all sure he would ever play basketball again.

He did play, of course, and over four years compiled a statistical record to rival that of any Princeton player not named Bill Bradley.  More importantly, he was a winner who led his teams to three straight Ivy titles from 1989 to 1991. The basketball world will never forget the final game of Kit’s sophomore year, when the No. 16 seeded Tigers lost a 50-49 heartbreaker to No. 1 Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a game chronicled by Princeton grads Sean Gregory and recently retired Alexander Wolff as “The Game That Saved March Madness.”

A two-time Ivy Player of the Year and a three-time All-Ivy first-team center, Mueller was also a two-time Academic All-American. At the time of his graduation Kit was second in Princeton history in scoring (1546 points) and assists (381). No one ever made the offense the run the way Carril wanted it run better than Mueller. His career field-goal percentage was .595, good enough for third place in school history. Three times he contributed 11 assists in a game, a feat achieved only once by another Tiger player. His teams won 80 games while losing 27, a winning percentage of 75. In the Ivy League, he was even better, going 45-11, including a 14-0 sweep in his final season.

Kit Mueller deserves serious consideration in any discussion of the league’s best players in its first 60 years.

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