Hoosier legend Archie Dees dies

Indiana University basketball legend Archie Dees died early Monday morning at age 80 after a recent bout of pneumonia.

Dees’ daughter, Lori Dees Johnson, posted the news on Facebook. “At 4:41 am my Dad passed away. God got a truly beautiful angel in him,” she wrote.

Dees, a 6-foot-8 forward/center, was born in Ethel, Mississippi, but became a basketball star in Illinois at Mt. Carmel High School, where he scored 2,337 points, a record only recently broken by IU women’s basketball player Tyra Buss.

From Mt. Carmel, Dees crossed the Wabash River to play for Indiana University and coach Branch McCracken from 1955-58. He became the first player in history to win the Big Ten MVP award twice (1957, ’58) and remains one of only three players (Jerry Lucas and Scott May the others) to do so. He was a third team All-American in 1957 and second team in 1958.

Dees anchored IU to Big Ten championships in those seasons, finishing his Hoosier career with 1,546 points and 914 rebounds and averaging a double-double of 22.7 points and 13.4 rebounds.

Dees was inducted into the IU Hall of Fame in 1983 and was later named to the Indiana University All-Century team.

He was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Royals in 1958 and played four years in the NBA with the Royals, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Packers and St. Louis Hawks.

Following his playing career, Dees made his place of residence in Bloomington, which celebrated Archie Dees Day on February 22, 2007. He was a frequent visitor over the years to IU games and practices, leaving his influence on generations of Indiana basketball players and coaches.

“Our condolences go out to Archie’s family and all of his friends,” current IU coach Tom Crean said in a statement. “Archie Dees will be remembered for many great things, and being a part of Indiana Basketball royalty will certainly be one of them. When Archie was around, we always knew we were around one of the all-time best.”

Former Hoosier and current North Carolina-Greensboro assistant coach Mike Roberts tweeted: “RIP Archie Dees. Hoosier great that always had a kind word for everyone.”

Butler assistant coach and IU grad Michael Lewis also paid his respects.

“Sad to hear about the passing of Archie Dees. He taught a lot of us what it meant to be a Indiana Basketball Player. Great Hoosier,” Lewis tweeted.

One comment

  1. Archie Dees is the first Hoosier star I can remember worshiping almost 60 years ago. Funny how 80 years old doesn’t seem that old these days. The longer we live the more of our friends and heroes. will precede us to eternal rest. Sad news on this dreary April day.

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