Purdue's first great scorer was Terry Dischinger.
So far on the list of top 25 ICONS we've had quite a run of players that I saw personally play at Purdue. Kyle Orton, Ukari Figgs, E`Twaun Moore, Brian Cardinal, and Joe Tiller all had careers that intersected with my time as a student. That makes them easier to write about, but our next ICON is one that I am unfamiliar with.
Terry Dischinger received 190 votes to come in 18th on our list. Some people even rated him solidly in the top 10, testifying to his impact on Purdue basketball. Even now he still ranks sixth on our all-time scoring list, passed this past season by Moore. When he left Purdue he was number one though. He was Purdue's first great scorer, and he is 18th on our list of Purdue ICONS.
Current contributor to the site John Wadas needs to contact Dischinger to form a tag-team business once he is out of dental school. You see, Wadas is well on his way to becoming an expert-level dentist even though he has to cleanse himself at the end of the day because he goes to the IU school of dentistry. Dischinger is currently an orthodontist, so he needs to give Wadas a job to help a fellow Boiler out here in a few years.
Domination of all things dental aside, Dischinger was a 6'7" all-sport athlete at Terre Haute Garfield High School. In football he earned all-state honors. He also earned all-state honors in track and basketball. In 1955 he was a member of Terre Haute's World Champion Babe Ruth League baseball team. He had so much athletic ability that he could event sports, like BASEketball, and dominate them.
Time at Purdue
Dischinger came to Purdue in the fall of 1958 and, as was allowed at the time, had to sit out his first year due to freshman eligibility rules. Once he was able to play he immediately became a force for the Boilermakers. He was a Second Team All-American as a sophomore guard/forward when he averaged 26.3 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. He scored 605 points, which is still one of the top 20 scoring seasons in school history. Against Wisconsin, he had 26 rebounds, one short of the school record.
Unfortunately, his efforts didn't often translate into wins. Purdue was only 11-12 with Dischinger as team captain. Things paid off that following summer as Dischinger was named to the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team. He was named a starter on the team with Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and Jerry Lucas. This team was practically the Dream Team before the Dream Team, and it was named en masse to the Basketball Hall of Fame last year. That team cruised to the Gold Medal, winning every game by at least 24 points. The closest anyone came was the Soviet Union, who lost 81-57. That allows me to say this: Dischinger was such a badass that he helped defeat Communism.
With a Gold Medal around his neck Dischinger returned to Purdue for the 1960-61 season and earned First Team All-America honors. He averaged 28.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game as Purdue finished 16-7 and 10-4 in Big Ten play. The season featured an upset of #4 Iowa, but Ohio State and Lucas were ranked #1 and went on to the NCAA's.
The Buckeyes would be Dschinger's block in that era, as Purdue was 17-7 the next season with Dischinger as a senior. The #1 Buckeyes defeated Purdue twice, meaning Purdue would not get the Big Ten's lone NCAA Tournament bid. As a senior he had a career high 52 points during a Christmas Day game against Michgian State that broke the Big Ten's single game scoring record. On the final day of the season he dropped 30 (with a sprained ankle) against Michigan to beat Indiana's Jimmy Rayl for the Big Ten scoring title. Rayl is a freaking legend at my Kokomo High School, so that is quite an honor for Dischinger. He averaged 30.3 points, 13.4 rebounds, and was named as a First-Team All-American once again. He led the Big Ten in scoring all three years at Purdue.
Historically his numbers are still standing up well. His 52 point game is still fifth on Purdue's all-time list, and he owns five of the top 10 scoring game sin Purdue history. When Smooge dropped 38 on Ohio State this year it was a big deal, but for Dischinger it was nothing. He had six games of 45 points or more during the 1961-62 season. His senior year is the sixth best in school history for scoring, which still holds up well when you consider it was only a 24 game season and currently we play about 35 games every year. His career scoring average trails only Rick Mount and Dave Schellhase. It's even higher than the Big Dog.
After two All-America level seasons Dischinger was drafted 8th overall in the 1962 NBA Draft by the Chicago Zephyrs. The Zephyrs eventually moved to Balitomore and became the Bullets, then Washington as the Wizards. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1963 for the Zephyrs as he averaged 25.5 points per game. He would be named to the NBA All-Star team for his first three years in the League, but his career was slightly blocked as he served in the Army for two seasons while still playing in the NBA.
He came back to the NBA full-time in 1967 with the Pistons. He played in Detroit for five years and even served as player-coach for a pair of games. He played for the Trailblazers in his final seasons before retiring in 1973. He had 9,012 points, 3,646 rebounds, and 1,151 assists in his nine year career.
After retiring he decided that he wanted to become a dentist. He earned his degree in Memphis and moved back to the Portland Area where he began an orthodontic practice. His practice is still active today, so if you're a Boiler in the Portland area in need of orthodontic services you can visit his offices. He is practicing with his father, which isn't a bad gig for a former NBA All-Star.
I feel like Dischinger is a player that is somewhat forgotten in our history. He never played in an NCAA Tournament game, but he is one of the very few players to be honored with a banner in the rafters because of his All-America status. He is one of only six players (along with Mount, Charles Murphy, John Wooden, Jewell Young, and Dave Charters) to earn First-Team All-America honors twice. He is one of our greatest players ever, and is certainly deserving of his place on this list.