LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva announced Friday the athletic department has commissioned a statue of former All-America basketball player and NBA star Bob Pettit.
The life-sized statue of Pettit, a Baton Rouge native who starred for the Tigers from 1951-54, is expected to be unveiled before the end of the 2015-16 season. It will be placed near the Shaquille O’Neal statue between the basketball and gymnastics practice facilities north of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
During his career at LSU, Pettit earned All-America honors in 1953 and 1954 and was an All-Southeastern Conference selection all three seasons. The Tigers won the SEC title in 1953, when they reached the Final Four, and again in ’54.
Pettit scored 1,916 points, which remains the sixth-highest career point total in LSU history, and led the conference in averaging 25.5 points in 1952, 24.7 points in ’53 and 31.4 points in ’ 54.
He also had 1,039 rebounds in three seasons, averaging 14.8 per game, and is one of only four players in school history to have 1,000 or more in his career.
He was the first LSU player in any sport to have his number retired in 1954, and was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and National Collegiate Basketball Hall in 2006.
Also a member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Pettit was chosen to LSU’s All-Century Team in 2009.
“This is the greatest honor that could ever be bestowed on me,” Pettit said n a university news release. “It is great to be recognized at such a wonderful institution that has always held a very special place in my heart.
“I want to acknowledge all the individuals who have made this possible and give a special thanks to everyone that has helped me with all that I have accomplished in my life.”
Following his LSU career, Pettit was the second player chosen in the 1954 NBA draft and played 11 seasons with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks. He averaged 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists for his career.
Pettit was named the league’s rookie of the year in 1955, was the regular-season MVP in 1956 and 1959, and was chosen for the all-star game all 11 seasons he played. He was the all-star game MVP four times and led the Hawks to the NBA Finals five times, winning the title in 1958.
Pettit, who celebrates his 83rd birthday Saturday, was selected as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players in 1997 when the league commemorated its 50th anniversary.
“Bob Pettit’s LSU and NBA credentials speak volumes of his star quality and his lasting recognition as one of the stars of the game,” Alleva said. “He is truly an ambassador of the game of basketball, and for LSU, and we are honored to be able to soon dedicate this statue in his honor.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.