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Brooks Thompson, 1st-round NBA pick, dies at 45 in Texas

Men Who Speak Up Main Event At MGM Grand Basketball Tournament - Cental Arkansas v Texas San Antonio

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 23: Head coach Brooks Thompson of the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners looks on during his team’s game against the Central Arkansas Bears during the Men Who Speak Up Main Event basketball tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Brooks Thompson, a first-round NBA draft pick and former Texas-San Antonio men’s basketball coach, has died. He was 45.

A UTSA statement announced Thompson died Thursday. Sports information spokesman Jordan Korphage said Friday that Thompson died in San Antonio.

Korphage said Thompson had been ill in recent months. No cause of death was immediately released.

Orlando made Thompson the 27th pick of the 1994 draft. He also played for Utah, Denver, Phoenix and New York during four seasons in the NBA.

“Another sad day today in the NBA world....” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “Brooks played for Orlando. I was watching Classic Sports about a week ago and they showed our 1996 Eastern Conference Finals game against the Magic, and Brooks and I were guarding each other. The Magic had had some injuries and he played Game 4; had a great game. I had no idea he was ill. I read today online that he passed away, and I just want to give my condolences to his family. I just cannot believe the year it’s been for the NBA and for so many people in the NBA who have lost loved ones. Not just players, but coaches and family members, and I wish the Thompson family well.”

“He was an excellent shooter and very knowledgeable,” Richie Adubato, who coached Thompson as an assistant in Orlando, said on the team’s website. “He was instant offense for us. We would run screens for him. Great attitude. Really understood the game. He was a great person.”

Thompson appeared in 71 regular-season games in Orlando and averaged 3.6 points and shot 35 percent from 3-point range. His memorable performance with the Magic came when he scored 17 points in Game 4 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls.

“He was a great teammate,” former Magic player Jeff Turner said on the Magic website. “We had a lot of great conversations about the league. He worked hard. He would always do things for Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal), Horace (Grant) and the guys. Great spirit about him.”

The news came just two days after another former Magic player, Sean Rooks, passed away.

Thompson’s best season was in 1996-97, when he averaged 6.8 points and 2.8 assists for Denver, with six starts in 65 games.

Thompson played college ball at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. He earned back-to-back All-Big Eight selections at Oklahoma State in 1993 and 1994. His 15.8 points per game are 12th in school history and his 5.4 assists per game rank fourth. He’s second in school history in steals (2.7 average) and 3-point percentage (.431).

Following his NBA career, Thompson returned to Oklahoma State as an assistant coach on Eddie Sutton’s staff for the 1998-99 and 2001-02 seasons. He later served two seasons on Rob Evans’ staff at Arizona State before taking over the UTSA program.

Thompson later spent 10 seasons at UTSA, going 133-178. His squad claimed the Southland Conference Tournament championship in 2011 and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Roadrunners then defeated Alabama State in the First Four to claim the school’s first NCAA Tournament win in any sport.

He was fired in March following a 5-27 season.

“The UTSA family is very saddened to learn that Brooks Thompson passed away on Thursday,” Texas-San Antonio athletic director Lynn Hickey said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Michelle, his daughters, Ryan Michelle, Brooke and Addison, and the rest of his family in this difficult time.”

Thompson led Littleton, Colorado, to the 1989 Class 4A title and was the state’s player of the year.