Position: Point Guard
- Providence College (Friars)
- Kentucky Colonels (ABA)
- Buffalo Braves (NBA)
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Boston Celtics
- Led Providence to the Final Four in 1973
- East Regional MVP (1973)
- Third overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft
- NBA Rookie of the Year in 1973-1974 season
- Averaged 15.2 points per game in 1973-1974, his rookie season with Buffalo
- Led the NBA in free-throw shooting in 1973-1974 (.902) and 1976-1977 (.945)
- Led the NBA in assists per game in 1973-1974 with 8.2 apg
- Career 9.6 points per game in the NBA
Ernie was a hometown hero who grew up in North Providence, Rhode Island and became a star at then-basketball-powerhouse Providence College. In High School, Ernie was known for driving fancy cars with “Ernie D” on the license plates. He also led North Providence High School to a state championship. In 1973, Ernie DiGregorio led Providence to the Final Four, stunning Maryland. New England sports fan to this day still consider Digregorio to be one of the greatest college players of all-time:
“He was the most imitated sports icon in Southern New England. I know this to be true because I was one of those kids who tried to emulate him. If you were a sports fan in the early seventies then Ernie DiGregorio was your idol. A starting guard for the Providence College Friars, Ernie DiGregorio was, in my opinion, the most exciting player I have seen in the college game.” -Prinalgin
“Even growing up in the 70’s in Nebraska i loved Ernie D, never had seen a guard make the passes he did.” – Doug
“Growing up in buffalo, i saw him play live vs canisius and was captivated all through his career up to that heartbreaking loss to memphis in the tourney. we had him here in buffalo for pro career and he was a real gentleman, practicing here at our buffalo jewish center with the team…the dondi-like looks, the brilliant passing and socring, the exciting run and gun tempo and the diminutive size made him an endearing sports hero…also, a couple of things- you are right about the lingering feeling of disappointment in that final 4 loss when barnes got hurt..a rematch with mighty ucla would have been the fitting finale for this hoops legends career rahter than the abrupt loss of barnes and the cinderewlla title quest…but also providence was obliterating memphis before barnes went down..they lead by 20 in the 1st half and were up 48-37 at the half..thanks for rekindling some sweet memories of indeed arguably the most entertaining college player.” -Dr. William Canter
Amazing how excited Providence fans get about their old-basketball teams.
After playing for the Providence College Friars, DiGregorio was drafted by the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association but opted instead for the NBA. He was selected third overall by the Buffalo Braves in the 1973 NBA Draft out of Providence College, and won the NBA Rookie of the Year. DiGregorio still holds the NBA rookie record for assists in a single game with 25 (a record now shared with Nate McMillan.
DiGregorio never again came close to the numbers he put up in his rookie season. He retired in 1981 with the Boston Celtics.
Here’s a 2007 article from the Providence College newspaper looking back at DiGregorio’s career.
On February 5th, 2008, Providence College gave away commemorative Ernie DiGregorio bobble-heads in honor of retiring his jersey during halftime of the Friars game against DePaul. The last market price RFPoftheDay could find for the bobble-head was $28.99 on eBay, two months ago. (eBay)
Following his career in the NBA, Ernie became the head coach for the Rhode Island School for the Deaf in 1982. Ernie had his #15 jersey retired and he now works as a celebrity host at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut and attends all Celtics home games. Ernie even says his job is “FAN-tastic”.
NBA Highlights of Ernie:
Sources: Wikipedia, New York Times