NEW ORLEANS – LSUS basketball coach Kyle Blankenship is one of four finalists for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Coach of the Year, which is selected by the New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.

Blankenship, the long-time men’s coach, 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.

Blankenship was voted the Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association following a 30-3 season with the Lady Pilots and the program’s first-ever NAIA Tournament win. LSUS also won the Red River Athletics Conference regular season and conference tournament titles with an unblemished league record.

“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 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.”

Blankenship joins LSU gymnastics coach Jay Clark, McNeese men’s basketball coach Will Wade, and LSU Eunice baseball coach Jeff Willis as finalists.

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

Willis continued to add to LSU Eunice’s junior college dominance with his eighth national championship in the past 19 seasons.

Wade was named the LSWA Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year after helping the Cowboys improve their record by 19 games (30-4 record) in his first season at the helm, which tied the NCAA Division I record for single-season improvement.

“What an incredible honor to be considered for such a prestigious award in our state,” Blankenship said. “I have such great pride being from Louisiana and coaching at my hometown’s university.

“To be mentioned in the same category with two national championship coaches and one who led the biggest turnaround in college basketball this season is pretty cool.”

The winner will be announced June 28 by the committee, but fans will also have their say.

Voting is open for the coaching award along with the top male and female college athlete honors, dubbed the James J. Corbett Awards.

The fan favorites will be announced alongside the committee’s choices.