Roy Marble, the high-flying guard who scored the most points in Iowa history as he helped the Hawkeyes become a national power in the mid-1980s, died Friday after a long battle with cancer, according to school officials. He was 48.
Iowa spokesman Matt Weitzel said Marble died in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Marble was a prep star from Flint before leaving his home state to play for the Hawkeyes from 1986-89, scoring 2,116 points and headlining perhaps the best years the program has ever seen.
Marble led Iowa to the NCAA Tournament four times, including an Elite Eight appearance in 1987, when the Hawkeyes reached No. 1 in the polls.
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"We are deeply saddened and mourn the loss of Roy Marble," said Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery. "Roy has been a part of the Iowa basketball family for a long time, as one of the all-time best to play for the Hawkeyes, and since then as a tremendous supporter of our program."
Marble was drafted 23rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989. But he suspended by the NBA for the season in February of his rookie year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He played just 29 games in the NBA, including five games during a brief comeback bid with Denver in 1993-94.
The Hawkeyes never retired Marble's number. But as he fought cancer, Iowa honored him with a halftime ceremony at Carver-Hawkeye Area in March and he received a long standing ovation.
"I want them to think of a guy who brought it night in and night out," Marble said when asked by the Des Moines Register how he wanted to be remembered.
Marble's son, Roy Devyn Marble, earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2014. He played for the Orlando Magic last season.
"He could fly in for dunks. But the fact that he developed not only his mid-range jumper, but also the 3-point shooting as he approached his senior year, is a tribute to the player he was," said Tom Davis, Marble's coach at Iowa. "His children have the same unselfishness and intelligence as Roy and that's a great tribute to Roy."
Marble is the second high-profile Iowa athlete to die this week. Former football star Tyler Sash, 27, was found dead in his home in Oskaloosa, Iowa on Tuesday.
Funeral arrangements for Marble were pending.