Remembering Dwayne Schintzius (1968-2012)

Published on March 16 at 1:01 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Dwayne Schintzius passed away Sunday at the way-too-young age of 43. He fell victim to a three-year battle with leukemia, dying at 2:45 p.m. Eastern at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa with his parents and his brother, Travis, by his side.

I first saw Schintzius play for Brandon High School at the 1985 Governor’s Cup in Tallahassee. My first impressions were his unreal height (7-foot-2), his ‘mullet’ and his incredible passing skills for a big man.

This was his junior year and Schintzius wasn’t even the best player on his team. That honor belonged to Toney Mack, who went on to stardom at Georgia and was selected in the second round of the 1989 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Schintzius committed to Norm Sloan’s Florida program early and he arrived at the perfect time. The M&M Boys, Andrew Moten and Vernon Maxwell, had been unable to get the Gators to the NCAA Tournament the two previous years, settling for NIT bids instead.

With Schintzius in the middle, Florida garnered its first NCAA Tourney bid in school history when he was a freshman in 1987. After Moten and Maxwell led UF to a comeback win over North Carolina St. in a first-round game at the Carrier Dome, it was Schintzius who was the catalyst in a blowout win over Purdue that propelled the Gators into the Sweet 16.

The freshman center talked a little too much noise that week, and it came back to haunt him when Rony Seikaly dominated him. Nevertheless, Florida had a five-point lead with five minutes remaining when the game turned on an incredible play by another lanky freshman, Syracuse’s Derrick Coleman.

After Moten shook Sherman Douglas out of his shorts, he appeared to have a clear path to a layup. However, Coleman came from out of nowhere to block the shot. Then the ‘Cuse threw downcourt to Howard Triche who converted an ‘and-one’ opportunity to cut the deficit to two. The Orange(men back then) went on to victory and eventually finished as the national runner-up, losing to Indiana in the title game on Keith Smart’s unforgettable baseline jumper.

Seikaly ended up with a career-high 33 points against UF, while Schintzius produced merely six points before fouling out.

In 1989 as a junior, Schintzius was suspended for the Great Alaska Shootout after he allegedly assaulted a person and a car with a tennis racket. For every road game that season, opposing fans would often throw tennis balls on the court, especially when Schintzius’s name was called during the starting lineups.

In a road game at Vandy, the Commodores had victory wrapped up with a two-point lead and the ball with just one second remaining. But it was a dead-ball situation and before Vandy could inbound, the fans rained down tennis balls onto the court. This resulted in a technical foul.

Showing incredible composure, Schintizius went to the charity stripe and knocked down both free throws to force overtime. Then he dominated the extra session and the Gators emerged victorious from Nashville.

One week later, Schintzius led UF to a nail-biting win at LSU to clinch the school’s first SEC regular-season title.

Before Schintzius’s senior campaign, however, Sloan and his staff were dismissed on Halloween Night. Don DeVoe was brought in as the interim head coach and immediately made Schintzius cut his mullet.

By the 12th game of season, Schintzius and fellow star forward Livingston Chatman quit the team. When he left, Schintzius called DeVoe, ‘Captain Ahab.’

Schintzius remains the only player in SEC history to tally at least 1,500 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 200 blocks.

He was drafted in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs with the 24th selection. Schintzius had an eight-year NBA career that was hampered by chronic back injuries.

For 21 years, Schintzius stayed away from the O-Dome until February of 2011 when he attended a UF-UGA game. He was given a standing ovation when shown on the Jumbotron.

“We just lost a great Gator,” Clifford Lett told the Gainesville Sun. “He will be missed.”

RIP: Dwayne Schintzius (1968-2012)

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