Former UC, NBA player Connie Dierking dies

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Former University of Cincinnati basketball star and longtime NBA player Connie Dierking has died at 77.

The Brooklyn-born Dierking starred for the Bearcats in the late 1950s. The 6-foot-10 center was a UC teammate of Oscar Robertson, and they were reunited with the Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association in the late 1960s.

“Connie Dierking was one of the pioneers that helped build the winning tradition of Cincinnati basketball,” UC head coach Mick Cronin said. “We want to extend our condolences to the Dierking family at this time.”

Dierking averaged 12.7 points and 13.5 rebounds helping the Bearcats to a 57-19 combined record during his three-year UC career (1956-58).

He was a co-captain on the 1957-58 squad that made the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance. He averaged 15.8 points and 14.9 rebounds and, along with Robertson, helped guide the Bearcats to a 25-3 overall record and UC’s first Missouri Valley Conference championship.

Dierking was named a second-team All-American by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection.

As a junior, Dierking led the Bearcats in scoring (18.5 points) and rebounding (18.8) while directing UC to the National Invitation Tournament and 15-9 overall record. He ranked 14th in the nation in rebounding.

Dierking still ranks first at UC for most rebounds in a game, grabbing 33 against Loyola (La.) on Feb. 16, 1957.

In the NBA, Dierking averaged 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in five seasons with the Royals (1966-70).

The Syracuse Nationals selected Dierking as the fifth pick overall in the 1958 NBA Draft. He played 10 NBA seasons, averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds. He played two seasons with the Nationals (1959-60) who became the Philadelphia 76ers (1964-65, 1971). He also played with the San Francisco Warriors (1965).

Dierking was inducted into the James P. Kelly UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.

He is survived by wife Robyn and their five children.

Thomas-Justin Memorial is handling funeral arrangements.

Visitation is Friday, Jan. 3,  from 4 to 8 p.m. at Thomas-Justin Memorial, 7500 Montgomery Road.

Mass of Christian Burial is Saturday, Jan, 4, at 10 a.m. at All Saints Catholic Church, 8939 Montgomery Road.

Burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 11000 Montgomery Road.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be directed to The American Cancer Society, 2808 Reading Road (45206) or Hospice of Cincinnati, PO Box 633597 (45263-3597).