Dyron Nix, University of Tennessee basketball star in the 1980s, died Sunday in Atlanta.
Sterling Henton, former Vol quarterback and a close friend of Nix at UT, said he learned of Nix’s death from Nix’s ex-wife, Shawn, Sunday afternoon.
Nix, 46, had been recently hospitalized for pneumonia, Henton said.
Nix ranks eighth on UT’s all-time scoring chart, with 1,877 points from 1985-89.
He led the SEC in rebounding in 1986-87 as a sophomore at 10.1 per game.
Then he led the league in scoring as a junior in 1987-88 at 22.2 points a game.
“I can honestly say Dyron was one of the most dynamic players I ever coached,’’ former UT coach Don DeVoe said Sunday night from his home in Annapolis, Md.
“Dyron had an internal strength about him. If ever anyone tried to challenge him, he would accept it head on.’’
DeVoe said he had been informed earlier in the day of Nix’s death.
DeVoe recruited Nix to UT from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
“He was a real catch for us,’’ DeVoe said. “He was highly recruited.’’
Following Nix’s senior year, he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets but lasted only one year in the NBA, playing for the Indiana Pacers.
Nix then went overseas and enjoyed a lucrative, decade-long career, mostly in Spain.
He had made the Atlanta area his home since retiring from basketball in 2000.
Nix was a natural selection to the Vols’ All-Century team in 2009.
“Dyron wanted the ball badly in and around the basket,’’ DeVoe said, “and he was a very powerful leaper. I thought he was an intimidating player his senior year.’’
Nix expanded his game to include a 3-point shot and was athletic enough to get transition baskets running the floor.
“Coleman Crawford joined our staff as an assistant coach,’’ DeVoe said, “and he really worked Dyron hard. Dyron accepted the challenge.
“He was really a leader as a senior on a team with a lot of seniors.
“He was just one of those special guys who are so confident in themselves and have outstanding skills.’’
Nix had been married to Shawn Moore, a track athlete he met at UT.
Their daughter, Cree, played basketball at Lipscomb University in Nashville and then at Illinois-Chicago.