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March Madness standout dies in car crash days after playing in NCAA Tournament

Grand Canyon University basketball star Oscar Frayer left his mark in the team's record book during a decorated playing career.
Oscar Frayer
Grand Canyon Antelopes forward Oscar Frayer attempts to block shot during a first-round game against the Iowa Hawkeyes.Katie Stratman / USA TODAY Sports
/ Source: TODAY

Grand Canyon University basketball player Oscar Frayer, who appeared in the team’s NCAA Tournament game last week, died Tuesday in a car accident that also claimed the lives of his older sister and a friend, the school said. He was 23.

The 6-foot-6-inch forward started in the Antelopes' first-round tournament loss to the University of Iowa last Thursday, the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the team since it became a Division I program in 2013.

Frayer, who made the all-defensive team for the Western Athletic Conference as a sophomore, owns the school record for blocks in the Division I era. He’s also second in career steals and fourth in points 3-pointers made.

The Oakland, California, native had earned his degree in communications and was scheduled to attend a graduation ceremony in April.

Frayer, No. 4, fights for the loose ball during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports

"On the court, Oscar was known as the ‘High Flyer’ and will be remembered for his soaring dunks, tenacious defense and game-changing blocked shots," the university said in a statement.

"Off the court, he will be remembered for his infectious smile, energetic spirit and caring soul that made him one of the most well-liked students on campus."

Grand Canyon head coach Bryce Drew mourned his death in a Twitter statement.

"O. You had an unbelievable ability to light up a whole gym with your smile," he wrote. "I am so thankful I was able to coach you and spend this year with you. The last 3 weeks were the happiest I had ever seen you. You completed your degree, won a championship, played in the NCAA Tournament and most importantly 11 day’s earlier raised your hand to rededicate your life to Christ.

We love you O and will see you again in heaven."

In Grand Canyon’s loss to Iowa in the tournament, Frayer scored eight points, dished five assists, blocked three shots and had one steal. Following the game, he thanked the team’s fans and school for his time at Grand Canyon.

“I bleed purple FOREVER!!!! THANK YOU LOPE NATION for the last 5 years..it’s been nothing less than amazing..from President Mueller, to our coaching staff, to my brothers who I compete with everyday..it’s love FOREVER. 4 Gone,” he wrote, referring to the number he wore.