HONORS / AWARDS:
In 1951, Dwight "Dike" Eddleman was selected to participate in the inaugural NBA All-Star game. It was just the latest of a mountain of awards and honors that the young World War II veteran had accumulated.
Eddleman was born in Centralia, Illinois and attended Centralia High School where he won three state titles in the high jump, led the basketball team to the 1942 state championship and finished third in the state in scoring on the football field. At the time of his graduation he held the Illinois records for career points scored in basketball (2,702) and also the single season record (969 points as a junior).
With scholarship offers pouring in from all over the country, Eddleman chose to remain close to home and attended the University of Illinois. Dike earned his first of 11 varsity letters in the spring of 1943, participating in track & field for the Illini. He then joined the military for World War II before resuming his athletic career in 1946.
On the gridiron Eddleman was a punter, receiver and punt returner. His 88-yard punt against Iowa in 1948 and his 92-yard punt return against Western Michigan in 1947 both remain as University of Illinois records today. His 1946 team won the Big Ten championship and went on do beat UCLA, 45-14, in the 1947 Rose Bowl.
Dike led the basketball team in scoring in two of his three seasons with Illinois. His senior year he was named to the first-team All-American while his team captured the Big Ten title and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
Finally, Eddleman wrapped up each schoolyear participating in the high jump for the track & field team. He won five Big Ten individual titles (3 indoor, 2 outdoor) and was crowned the 1948 NCAA champion. After graduating in '48, Eddleman joined the U.S. Olympic team for the games in London where he tied for the second highest cleared height in the competition.
Eddleman was drafted by the Chicago Bears (NFL), Cleveland Browns (AAFC), and the Chicago Stags (BAA) before finally choosing to suit up in a Tri-Cities Blackhawks jersey in the newly formed National Basketball Association. Dike played both seasons that the franchise was located in Illinois, leading the team in scoring as a 27-year old rookie. As noted earlier, he was named to the inaugural NBA All-Star team in 1951 while with the Blackhawks.
In the fall of 1951 Eddleman made the move with the franchise to Milwaukee, where he was selected to his second All-Star team. With the team lagging at the bottom of the standings he was traded to Fort Wayne in the middle of the season. He played one last season with the Pistons in 1952-53 before retiring with a 12.1 ppg scoring average.
Upon retirement Dike spent 18 years in Gibson City, Ill. before rejoining the athletic department at his alma mater in a fundraising capacity. He retired in 1992.
In 1993 Illinois University renamed their male and female Athlete of the Year awards in his honor.
Eddleman died in 2011 at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife Teddy, four children, and a slew of grandchildren.
In the end, Dike's accomplishment as the Hawks franchise's first All-Star might get lost in the list of awards and honors associated with the multi-sport star. To be fair, with the Olympics, the Rose Bowl, and the Final Four, it is not a bad list to be lost in.