Thomas Dwight "Dike" Eddleman (December 27, 1922 – August 1, 2001) is generally considered the greatest athlete in the history of athletics at the University of Illinois. Eddleman participated on the University's basketball, track and field, and football teams between the years of 1947 and 1949. Eddleman earned a combined 11 varsity letters in his career at the University, during which he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Eddleman was born in Centralia, Illinois, and attended Centralia High School. On October 24, 2008 Eddleman was named a Distinguished Alumni of Centralia High school. He, along with five others, including James Brady, were the first to be named Distinguished Alumni. His wife, Teddy Eddleman, accepted his award.
Beginning in 1969, Eddleman served the University of Illinois as a fundraiser for the athletic department. In tribute to his years of service to the University's athletics, in 1993, the University of Illinois athlete of the year awards for both men and women were named in his honor. In 2002, the portion of Fourth Street in Champaign, Illinois that runs along the east side of Memorial Stadium between Peabody Drive and Kirby Street was designated Honorary Dike Eddleman Way (a street in his hometown of Centralia, Third Street, which runs past the old high school, is also designated Dike Eddleman Way).
In 1983, Eddleman was inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame.
As a high school player, Eddleman is considered one of the finest players in the history of high school basketball in the state of Illinois. Eddleman played four years at Centralia High School, from 1939 to 1942. Eddleman led the Centralia Orphans to the 1942 Illinois state basketball championship, after finishing fourth in 1939 and third in 1941. In the 1942 title game, Eddleman single-handedly led a comeback as the Orphans were 13 points down with five minutes to go. As a junior and senior, Eddleman led the state in scoring with 969 and 834 points, respectively. His 969 points as a junior broke the previous state record of 751 points. During his high school career, Eddleman scored 2702 career points, which was at the time of his graduation from high school a state record for most points in a career. Eddleman was the first high school player in Illinois to average at least 20 points per game. In 2007, the Illinois High School Association named Eddleman one of the 100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament.
At the University of Illinois, Eddleman played for coach Harry Combes. In 1949, Eddleman led the men's basketball team to the Big Ten title, and an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. That year, he earned the Chicago Tribune's Silver Basketball as the conference MVP. He was named First-Team All-American in 1949, and Second-Team All-American in 1948. Eddleman was named First-Team All-Big Ten in 1948, and Second-Team All-Big Ten in 1949. Eddleman served as the team captain in 1949, and was named the team MVP that year. He was elected to the "Illini Men's Basketball All-Century Team" in 2004.
After leaving the University, Eddleman played professionally for four seasons in the National Basketball Association. In 1950, Eddleman led the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in scoring as a rookie. After playing one more season for the Blackhawks, Eddleman played two seasons for the Fort Wayne Pistons. Eddleman played in the NBA All-Star Game in both 1951 and 1952. Over his NBA career, Eddleman scored 3221 points in 266 games, for a scoring average of 12.1 points per game.
Track and field
As a high school athlete, Eddleman won three Illinois state high jump titles. As a collegian, he won an NCAA high jump championship and competed in the high jump at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
Eddleman participated in the 1947 Rose Bowl as a punter, and played a number of roles for the team in his career. As of the 2009 season, Eddleman maintains the Illinois team record for both the longest punt and the longest punt return.