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May 23, 1941: Athlete Rod Thorn Born in Princeton

Rod Thorn
Public Domain

Athlete Rod Thorn was born in Princeton on May 23, 1941. He was Princeton High School’s best basketball and baseball player and was heavily recruited by colleges. The straight-A student was leaning toward Duke University when the West Virginia Legislature passed an unprecedented resolution declaring him a state natural resource.

Thorn ultimately picked West Virginia University, where he wore number 44, the same as Jerry West, who’d just preceded him in Morgantown. During his senior year, the six-foot-four guard was named an All-American.

In the 1963 NBA draft, Thorn was selected by the Baltimore Bullets as the second player taken overall. In the NBA, he played for the Bullets, Detroit Pistons, St. Louis Hawks, and Seattle Supersonics. After retiring from playing, he was an assistant coach with the Sonics and New Jersey Nets and head coach of the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA. As general manager of the Chicago Bulls in 1984, he drafted Michael Jordan, who would lead that franchise to six championships.

Rod Thorn later served as an NBA executive and was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

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