Former Virginia guard, NBA exec Lance Blanks dies at 56

By Jerry Ratcliffe


Former NBA executive and former Virginia and Texas star basketball player Lance Blanks died in Dallas on Wednesday. He was 56 years old.

Blanks, who played for the late Terry Holland in 1985, then transferred to Texas, where he blossomed as a player, kept his UVA ties and still visited Charlottesville from time to time. The cause and manner of his death weren’t known as of this writing.

Blanks served as director of scouting for the San Antonio Spurs prior to moving into the front office as assistant general manager to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2010, he was appointed GM of the Phoenix Suns through 2013, when he broadcasted Texas basketball for the Longhorn Network.

Daughter Riley Blanks Reed released a statement late Wednesday that read:

“My dad was my person. He was my teacher, my idol, my best friend. The love I have for him is simply immeasurable.”

Blanks came to UVA from Woodlands, Texas, and formed a potentially lethal offensive combination with backcourt mate Richard Morgan. While they weren’t paired together that much, Blanks was somewhat relegated to a sixth-man role, which eventually led to his transfer to Texas.

In his two years with the Longhorns, Blanks averaged 20 points and 5 rebounds per game, which eventually led to his induction into the Texas Hall of Honor in 2007.

His 1,322 points still rank eighth in Texas basketball history and are the most by a Longhorn who only played two seasons. His 20.0 points per game still are the fourth-most in program history. He ended his career as Texas’ all-time steals leader.

A shooting guard, he was taken in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, where he spent three years, as he did with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He went on to play overseas before returning to the states to pursue a career as an NBA executive.

“Lance was a light for all those who knew him,” said former Piston Joe Dumars in a statement. “It’s been a privilege to have called him one of my closest friends.

“I’m eternally grateful for all the support he has shown me throughout the years. His legacy will be carried on, not only by his family, but by all those whose lives he touched for the better. You will be dearly missed, brother.”