I had never met Dischinger when we had this conversation, and I've still never seen a single video clip of him playing. I know he's one of the all-time great players to come out of the Big Ten, though. He just had the misfortune of playing when Ohio State was dominating the conference and only one team from each league could play in the NCAA tournament.
Back in the mid-Eighties, I heard Bob Knight – who played against Dischinger while on those Ohio State teams – say at a speaking engagement in West Lafayette that Dischinger was as good as any player ever to come out of the Big Ten.
Dischinger's story is unique. He was all-state in basketball, football and track in high school in Terre Haute, and a great baseball player as well. He led the Big Ten in scoring all three of his varsity seasons at Purdue and was a first-team All-America selection as a junior and senior. He had nine games of 40 or more points in all, a Purdue record. And, as a sophomore, he started on the 1960 Olympic team that easily won a gold medal and ranks as one of the all-time greatest collections of talent.
He was an outstanding student, too, and in fact was continuing his education at Purdue during his rookie season in the NBA. He wound up being voted Rookie of the Year despite being a part-time player.
Dischinger played nine seasons in the NBA, then became an orthodontist. He practiced in Portland, Oregon (where he had ended his NBA career) before retiring. He gets back to Indiana each May for the Indy 500, and also comes back to Purdue just about every year for a football or basketball game. He had the misfortune of playing in an era when games weren't routinely televised, and of playing for average teams, so he ranks as one the most underrated players in state history. Still, he's one of the best.
First aired 2010Tagged with: 1960 U.S. Olympic basketball team, Indiana basketball hall of fame, orthodontist, Purdue basketball, Terry Dischinger