Dwayne Schintzius dead at age 43

Updated: April 16, 2012, 2:48 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Former NBA and University of Florida basketball player Dwayne Schintzius died Sunday afternoon from respiratory failure. He was 43.

The 7-foot-2 Schintzius, who starred at Brandon (Fla.) High School east of Tampa, had been battling complications from a bone marrow transplant he received as treatment for chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, the Tampa Tribune reported.

Schintzius played at Florida from 1987-90 and helped lead the Gators to their first three NCAA tournament appearances in school history (the first two were later vacated by the NCAA). Schintzius is sixth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,624 points and still holds the school record for blocked shots (272). He was named an All-American by The Associated Press, UPI and the Sporting News in 1989 after averaging 18.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Schintzius is still the only player in Southeastern Conference history with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocked shots.

But Schintzius was almost as well known for his mullet haircut -- which he called The Lobster -- and the unceremonious end to his collegiate career. He quit the team 11 games into the 1989-90 season after a falling out with interim head coach Don DeVoe.

Bill Koss, a Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida basketball analyst and former UF player from 1963-65, said he'll remember Schintzius as the first great big man to play at Florida.

"He was maybe as skillful as any big man that's ever played at Florida," Koss said. "Soft hands. Could really pass the basketball. Great instincts.

"He really was a guy that had a large, large impact on University of Florida basketball."

Schintzius returned to the O'Connell Center for a game on Feb. 24, 2011 for the first time since he left the team. He was treated to a rousing ovation when he was introduced in the first half.

"That meant a lot," Schintzius told the school's website after the Gators beat rival Georgia 71-62. "No matter what happened, I've always been proud to be a Gator."

Schintzius was a first-round draft pick by San Antonio in 1990 (24th overall selection). He played for six teams in his injury-filled eight-year NBA career, which ended in 1999 with the Boston Celtics.

Schintzius underwent surgery on his back, knee (twice) and ankle and never played in more than 43 games in a single season. His best season was his rookie season, when he averaged. 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

Schintzius was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia more than two years ago and underwent chemotherapy and also had a bone marrow transplant. He was declared cancer-free but suffered a relapse and was forced to undergo another bone marrow transplant.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter