To round out his first Northwestern State men’s basketball coaching staff, first-year Rick Cabrera reached into his past – both recent and much further back.
Cabrera announced the additions of associate head coach Anthony Figueroa and director of basketball operations Chad Bailey on Monday, completing the NSU staff for the 2023-24 season.
A member of Cabrera’s Lackawanna College staff from 2004-08, Figueroa brings a decorated resume from more than a decade as a head coach at Parkland College and North Central College in Illinois.
Figueroa spent the 2022-23 season at North Central, coaching the Cardinals to a 14-12 record and a berth in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament.
Under Figueroa, the Cardinals played the No. 2-ranked strength of schedule in NCAA Division III and led the CCIW in 3-point shooting percentage. The Cardinals had two All-CCIW selections, one all-region pick and one first-team NABC All-District player in 2022-23.
Figueroa came to North Central following a decade as the head coach at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois.
While at Parkland, Figueroa compiled an overall record 221-79 and led the Cobras to five Midwest Athletic Conference championships, four Region 24 titles and two berths in the Elite Eight of the NJCAA Tournament. Figueroa saw 55 of his Parkland student-athletes move on to four-year institutions.
In addition to coaching three NJCAA All-Americans, 29 all-conference and all-region players, there conference Players of the Year and one Region 24 Player of the Year, Figueroa also was an assistant athletic director at Parkland. He also was the M-WAC men’s basketball chairman.
Prior to his decade at Parkland, Figueroa spent the 2010-11 academic year as an assistant coach at Centennial High School in Champaign, his second stint there. His first came one season ahead of his time at Lackawanna where he teamed with Cabrera to form a juggernaut program that won 101 games in four years and three conference titles.
At Lackawanna, Figueroa recruited, developed and coached three NJCAA All-Americans, nine All-Region 19 players and one Region 19 Player of the Year.
Figueroa also spent three seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Millikin University, in Decatur, Illinois. Figueroa earned his undergraduate degree in computer science from Millikin.
“I’m so excited to have this opportunity to work with one of my best friends,” Cabrera said. “Anthony and I worked together when I was the head coach at Lackawanna College from 2004-08. I knew that if I was fortunate enough to get this opportunity, he would be my first phone call. His knowledge of the game of basketball is on another level. He is one of the most detailed coaches I’ve been around. He also has a great ability to identify and recruit talent, which will help us bring top players to this program. I’m looking forward to him being a huge asset to our basketball family.”
Bailey, a Baton Rouge native, returns to his home state and to the Southland Conference after spending two seasons on Cabrera’s staff at Tallahassee Community College.
Before arriving in Tallahassee, Bailey spent three years as a student and a graduate assistant at Southeastern Louisiana, earning a pair of degrees from SLU while working under head coaches Jay Ladner and David Kiefer.
While with Cabrera at TCC, Bailey helped the Eagles reach the 2023 NJCAA Final Four and produce a 31-6 record. In two seasons at Tallahassee, Bailey helped the Eagles go 52-16, a .765 winning percentage.
Ahead of his time on Cabrera’s staff, Bailey worked closely with Southeastern’s Keon Clergeot, who was the Southland’s second-leading scorer in 2020-21. Bailey also helped tutor Marlain Veal, a two-time first-team All-Southland selection, the 2017-18 SLC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team NABC All-Region selection, as well as all-conference selection Gus Okafor.
“Chad comes with me from Tallahassee where he helped us have two successful years,” Cabrera said. “Chad has a great eye for talent and recruited some high-level guys for me at Tallahassee. Being from Baton Rouge, as well as having experience in the Southland Conference, I knew that Chad would be a great asset to our program and watching him grow in the business.”