On this day in 1965, Princeton forward Bill Bradley sets an NCAA men’s basketball record with 58 points in a game against Wichita State. Bradley was the dominant player in college basketball that year and won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
William Warren Bradley was born in 1943 in Crystal City, Missouri. His basketball skills earned him more than 70 scholarship offers, many from the best basketball schools in the country. Though Ivy League schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, Bradley chose Princeton University, where he became a three-time college All-American. In his freshman year, Bradley sunk a record 57 consecutive free throws, a feat that had not yet been accomplished in college or professional basketball. After his junior year in 1964, Bradley captained the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, leading them to a gold medal. In his senior year, he led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament, where he was the top scorer, averaging 43.5 points per contest. Although his scoring was not enough to overcome the University of Michigan in the semifinals, his 58 points against Wichita State helped the Tigers to a third-place finish.
Upon graduation from Princeton, Bradley bypassed the NBA and accepted a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford. Bradley then spent a year playing for Olimpia Milano in the Italian basketball league, leading them to the 1966-67 European championship. The next year, Bradley returned to the United States and joined a talented New York Knicks squad that featured five other future Hall of Famers: Dave DeBusschere, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jerry Lucas and Willis Reed. As the Knicks didn’t need to rely on his scoring, Bradley played an all-around game, averaging 12.3 points per game for his career and helping the Knicks to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973. Bradley retired from basketball in 1977. Six years later, in 1983, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The multi-talented Bradley went on to serve three terms in the U.S. Senate (1979-1997). He ran for president in 2000, losing the Democratic nomination to Vice President Al Gore.