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LSUS's Blankenship selected for Allstate Sugar Bowl honor

By Matt Vines June 25, 2024

NEW ORLEANS – LSUS basketball coach Kyle Blankenship has been selected as the Jimmy Collins Award recipient from the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, the organization announced.


The Collins Award honors a sports figure or organization whose accomplishments that particular year doesn’t fit into a specific category. The award is named after a longtime New Orleans sportswriter who is credited with creating the New Orleans Sports Awards and forming the Sports Awards Committee in 1958.


Blankenship, the longtime men’s coach at LSUS, pulled double duty this season as he assumed control of the women’s team just two weeks before the regular season started.

He coached both teams to the NAIA Tournament with a combined 54-12 record, including a pair of NAIA Tournament wins on the same day. The latter feat is believed to be a first in college basketball history.


Blankenship, the Louisiana Women’s Basketball College Coach of the Year (Louisiana Sports Writers Association) and a finalist for the Collegiate Coach of the Year in all sports, guided the women to a 30-3 record, their first-ever NAIA Tournament win, a program-best 22-game winning streak, and Red River Athletics Conference regular season and tournament titles.


The Pilot men advanced to the NAIA Sweet 16 as that program continued its postseason success for the past two decades.


“What we were able to accomplish this season coaching two teams is something that has never been done before in college basketball history,” Blankenship said. “I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to lead both of our men’s and women’s teams this past season.

“It was definitely the highlight of my 12-year career and one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”


The fateful NAIA Tournament day came on March 15, when the women topped Tabor, 69-59, in a 2 p.m. game before Blankenship turned around and coached the nightcap with the men, a 95-89 overtime win against Kansas Wesleyan. Both teams were at the same tournament site in Salina, Kansas.


“Once we finished celebrating the women’s first-ever national tournament win, I hopped in the car with my assistant coach to go pick up the men’s pregame meal and delivered it back to the hotel,” Blankenship said. “We then had to return to the gym to scout the game before us at 6 p.m. It was easily the most chaotic day of the season, but definitely the most rewarding of my 12-year career following the men’s first-round victory later that night!”

 

Blankenship was a finalist for the Collegiate Coach of the Year honor with LSU gymnastics coach Jay Clark, McNeese men’s basketball coach Will Wade, and LSU Eunice baseball coach Jeff Willis.


Both Clark and Willis won national championships this year in their respective sports, the first-ever for LSU gymnastics.


Blankenship will be among the honorees at an Aug. 3 banquet in New Orleans to recognize annual award winners and to induct the Great New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2024.


Recognizable inductees include NBA players Chris Duhon (Salmen High) and Paul Thompson (Tulane), Saints offensive lineman Jahri Evans and NFL running back Matt Forte (Tulane).

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