Following up on something that HoopDirt.com first reported on Tuesday morning (JUCO DIRT). Tallahassee CC has made the hiring of Rick Cabrera official – they released the following this afternoon:
Tallahassee Community College Director of Athletics Rob Chaney has announced the hire of Arkansas State assistant Rick Cabrera as the Eagles’ new men’s basketball head coach.
Cabrera, just the fifth head coach in the program’s 31-year history as members of the NJCAA, recently completed his second season as an assistant coach at Arkansas State.
Cabrera has spent the last 13 years as a Division I assistant. In addition to Arkansas State (2019-21), he has served on staffs at Austin Peay (2017-19), Tennessee Tech (2012-17) and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (2008-12). His resume includes a four-year stint as a NJCAA head coach, and he relishes the opportunity to return to the lead role.
“There are not many jobs that I would have left Division I for, but Tallahassee Community College was a no-brainer for me,” Cabrera said. “During my 13 years as a Division I assistant, I had great times and worked for some great coaches, but the best four years of my career was as the head coach at Lackawanna (Pa.) College (NJCAA DII). There, I had the ability to impact young men’s lives, and I have seen those individuals grow up, get married, and raise families. That is something I wanted to get back to – the ability to manage and lead my own program. I want to have a direct impact on these young men and to help them prosper and achieve their goals.”
Cabrera also knows the pedigree of Tallahassee basketball and what it takes to compete in the Panhandle Conference.
“I was drawn to the history of Tallahassee Community College with the basketball success they have had,” Cabrera said. “The (Panhandle) conference is, by far, the best in the country. The location is great for recruiting. I’ve talked to some coaches in the industry, as well as some friends of mine, and they told me, ‘if you want to be a head coach, this is a no-brainer.'”
The Eagles’ top post opened in mid-April when former head coach Zach Settembre was hired as an assistant at Coastal Carolina University following two seasons and a 46-9 record. With 125 applicants, the search began in earnest when the calendar flipped to May and ultimately ended with Cabrera being selected to lead the Eagles’ defense of back-to-back Panhandle Conference Championships.
“As expected, the position generated tremendous interest from coaches at all levels, and Rick emerged from a deep and very competitive list of candidates,” Chaney said. “As a former NJCAA student-athlete and coach, he knows the landscape of two-year athletics, and his experience as a Division I assistant will prove valuable when helping the young men in our program successfully matriculate to a four-year college or university. I’m excited to welcome Rick and his family to Tallahassee.”
Cabrera first dipped his feet in the head coaching waters with Lackawanna from 2004-08. There, he compiled a record of 100-29 (.775) in four seasons at the helm and was named NJCAA Region XIX Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2006. The Spring Valley, N.Y., native also took home the regular season conference championship in 2005, 2006 and 2007, along with winning the region tournament championship in 2005 and 2006. Cabrera coached 13 All-Region honorees, three NJCAA All-Americans, and one Region Player of the Year in his time with the Falcons.
Cabrera’s introduction to the NJCAA, however, came as a basketball student-athlete, first at Kemper (Mo.) Military School in 1994-95 then at traditional power Vincennes (Ind.) University, where he played in 1995-96, eventually earning a scholarship to Tennessee Tech.
Cabrera played two seasons (1996-98) with the Golden Eagles under head coach Frank Harrell. As a senior, he averaged 11 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Cabrera graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies. Following the conclusion of his athletic career, he joined his alma mater as a graduate assistant under head coach Jeff Lebo and helped lead Tennessee Tech to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship with a 13-3 conference record. Cabrera received his master’s in instructional leadership from Tennessee Tech in 2001.
Cabrera’s first coaching job out of college was as an assistant basketball coach for Miami Killian High School in 2001-02. After one season, he secured a job with NJCAA member Keystone (Pa.) College, where he served as assistant coach, strength and conditioning coordinator, and study hall manager from 2002-04.
Cabrera is ready to hit the ground running in Tallahassee.
“The last couple of nights, I’ve had some sleepless nights,” Cabrera said. “I’m just so excited about what’s ahead. The kids are excited. My wife is excited. We are looking to get there as soon as possible.”
Cabrera is married to the former Danielle Olker of Queens, N.Y. The couple has a daughter, Mikayla, and three sons, Jaden, Braxton and Landon.