What Jimmy Walker was to Joe Mullaney and the great teams of the 1960's, Ernie DiGregorio was to Dave Gavitt and the team's of the 1970's. Homegrown in the shadow of Alumni Hall, Ernie D not only defined the running Friar tradition but helped revolutionize college basketball's fast break offense. A wizard with the basketball as a ballhandler and passer, DiGregorio helped usher in the age of the Providence Civic Center. It was his behind-the-back passes and three consecutive team MVP awards that packed the downtown arena. Still the all-time assists leader and one of the top scorers in PC history, he was a consensus All-America and Lapchick Award winner as the nation's outstanding senior. He was the NCAA East Regional MVP and the only Providence player to make the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team. The third pick in the 1973 NBA draft, he went on to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year. He played for the Buffalo Braves for four seasons before a season with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The ECAC named him Eastern Player of the Decade for the 1970's.
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 and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1973-74 after averaging 15.2 points and leading the league in both free throw percentage and assists per game. DiGregorio still holds the NBA rookie record for assists in a single game with 25 (a record now shared with Nate McMillan). During the 1976-77 season, DiGregorio led the league in free throw percentage a second time, with a then-NBA record 94.5 percent average. Ernie played another four seasons after his rookie campaign and averaged 9.6 points per game for his career. In addition to the Braves, he also played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.