Former Texas Longhorn basketball star and Spurs scout Lance Blanks passed away this week at the age of 56.
Part of UT's famed "BMW" backcourt with fellow teammates Travis Mays and Joey Wright, Blanks spent his junior and senior season with the Longhorns after transferring from the University of Virginia. According to data from UT, those two years were enough to cement Blanks as the eighth-leading scorer in school history, with 1,322 points — the highest total by a two-year player in program history.
He concluded his career as UT's all-time leader in steals (198) and ranked third at the time in career scoring average (20.0 ppg). During his senior year in 1989-1990, Blanks helped lead the Longhorns to their first NCAA Elite Eight run since 1947.
After graduating from UT, the NBA reports Blanks was the 26th pick in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft, joining the Detroit Pistons for three years before playing professionally in Europe for an additional seven. He came back to Texas in 2000 to serve as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs, and San Antonio's KENS5 station reports that he ran the first NBA workout for a young Tony Parker.
Blanks remained with the Spurs for several years, working his way up to scouting director for the organization in 2002 and serving as the broadcast analyst for the 2004-2005 season. Within the NBA, he went on to serve as Assistant General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, General Manager for the Phoenix Suns, and most recently as a Scout for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Blanks was also a respected ESPN analyst and a beloved mentor to young players and executives around the world. He was actively involved with Basketball Without Borders (the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program) and with the Nigerian National Team in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
He was inducted into the University of Texas Athletics' Hall of Honor in 2007.
"We lost a truly great one with the passing of Lance Blanks, and we are all just crushed and heartbroken," said University of Texas Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. "Lance is a Longhorn Legend, an icon, and had such a far-reaching presence and influence in the world of college and professional basketball ... He absolutely loved his Longhorns, was a proud Texan, and was always lending a helping hand to anyone in need."
Born in Del Rio, Texas, on September 9, 1966, Blanks was the son of Sidney "Sugar Bear" Blanks Sr., a former NFL running back for the Houston Oilers and New England Patriots and the first African American to receive a football scholarship in the State of Texas. He is survived by his mother, Clarice; his brother, Sidney Jr.; the mother of his two daughters, Renee; his daughters, Riley and Bryn; and his granddaughter, Isabel.
"My dad was my person. He was my teacher, my idol, my best friend," shared his daughter, Riley Blanks Reed, via Instagram. "The love I have for him is simply immeasurable. He carried his family and friends on his selfless shoulders and he was the wisest man I'll ever know. The path ahead is dark without him but he once told me that he trusted my sister and me to carry the torch of our family's legacy. And we will."
The Blanks family will share information n the coming days regarding Blanks' celebration of life.