Considered the top high school player in the country, Bradley initially chose to attend Duke University in the fall of 1961. However, after breaking his foot in the summer of 1961 during a baseball game and thinking about his college decision outside of basketball, he decided to enroll at Princeton University instead. He had been awarded a scholarship at Duke, but not at Princeton (the Ivy League does not allow its members to award athletic scholarships). In his freshman year at Princeton, Bradley averaged more than 30 points per game for the freshman team, and at one point during his freshman season, he made 57 consecutive free throws. The following year, as a sophomore, he was a varsity starter, in Butch van Breda Kolff's first year as the Princeton coach.
Bradley was named to The Sporting News All-American first team in early 1963, in his sophomore year, and the coach of the St. Louis Hawks believed he was ready to play professional basketball at that point. The AP and United Press International polls both put Bradley on the second team, establishing him as the top sophomore player in the country. The following year, as a junior, The Sporting News again named him to its All-American team (the only junior) and additionally named him player of the year.
Olympic medal record
Gold 1964 Tokyo United States
At the Olympic basketball trials in April 1964, Bradley played guard instead of his usual forward position, and was still a top performer at the trials. He was chosen unanimously for the Olympic team and was also elected captain of the Princeton basketball team for the following season. The Olympic team went on to win its sixth consecutive gold medal.
In total, Bradley scored 2,503 points at Princeton, averaging 30.2 points per game. He was awarded the 1965 James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the United States' top amateur athlete, the first basketball player to win the honor, and the second Princeton student to win the award, after runner Bill Bonthron in 1934.
Bradley holds a number of Ivy League career records, including total and average points (1,253/29.83, respectively), and free throws made and attempted (409/468, 87.4%). Ivy League season records he holds similarly include total and average points (464/33.14, 1964) and most free throws made (153 in 170 attempts, 90.0%, 1962-1963). He also holds the career point record at Princeton and many other school records, including the top ten slots in the category of total points scored in a game.