Demons turn to Florida junior college coach to fill basketball vacancy

NEW TO NSU:  Tallahassee Community College basketball coach Rick Cabrera will be officially announced today as Northwestern State’s new coach. (Photo courtesy Tallahassee CC)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

NATCHITOCHES — A year to the day after choosing Corey Gipson as his first head coaching hire at Northwestern State, Demons’ athletics director Kevin Bostian tabbed Gipson’s replacement Tuesday evening.

Tallahassee Community College’s Rick Cabrera will officially be announced today as the Demons’ next head basketball coach. He has 150 wins and only 44 losses (a .773 winning percentage) in six seasons as a head junior college coach and will lead TCC’s Eagles into a second-round National Junior College Athletic Association tournament contest this afternoon in Hutchinson, Kan.

Gipson, who led NSU to a 22-11 mark in his only season, accepted the head job at his alma mater, Austin Peay, four days after the Demons lost in the Southland Conference Tournament championship game.

Cabrera’s hiring was confirmed late Tuesday night by NSU assistant AD for media relations Jason Pugh. CBS Sports college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein was first to report the hire, followed locally by Tim Owens of KTAL-TV in Shreveport.

Two others were also reportedly in the final mix, according to various college basketball analysts:  New Orleans native Quannas White, an assistant coach at No. 1-ranked Houston, and Alcorn State third-year  head coach Landon Bussie, who has led the Braves to two straight Southwestern Athletic Conference titles, and a pair of National Invitation Tournament appearance.

Cabrera, who has 13 seasons of Division I assistant coaching experience, is expected to be introduced in Natchitoches sometime next week, said Pugh.

While Cabrera has no direct ties to Northwestern State, he does have a good point of reference. He rose from assistant to associate head coach at Tennessee Tech while on staff there from 2012-17, working under former Demons’ assistant coach Steve Payne, who was on J.D. Barnett’s NSU staff in the mid-1990s.

Cabrera is finishing his second season as head coach at Tallahassee. From 2004-08, he was head coach at Lackawanna (Pa.) College, going 100-29 in four seasons. He has won three Coach of the Year awards, including this season as the 12th-seeded Eagles carry a 29-5 record into their game today against No. 5-seeded Salt Lake. He is 50-15 at TCC.

TCC held a No. 7 NJCAA Top 25 poll ranking at the end of the regular season. Five players earned all-conference honors.

Along with his stint at Tennessee Tech – his alma mater – Cabrera has been an assistant coach at Arkansas State, Austin Peay and Chattanooga, where he helped the Mocs win the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament championships on the way to a 2009 NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Jeff Lebo.

As a player at Tennessee Tech, he helped the Golden Eagles win an Ohio Valley Conference regular-season crown. He began his career as a high school assistant coach in Miami, Fla., and in Tennessee, and was a graduate assistant coach at Tennessee Tech before becoming a fulltime assistant at Keystone (Pa.) College.

A native of Manhattan, N.Y., Cabrera played professionally in the Dominican Republic, where his father Hugo Cabrero is one of the country’s all-time great pros. Ironically, NSU freshman sensation Hansel Enmanuel, who is one of seven NSU players entering the transfer portal on Monday, is a native of the Dominican Republic.

Contact Doug at

To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE