Prairie View A&M Men’s Basketball officially announced the addition of Caleb Villarreal as assistant coach. The addition rounds out the 2020-21 PVAMU coaching staff.
“He came highly recommended,” Head Coach Byron Smith said of Villarreal. “Caleb has either been a manager or worked as a video coordinator or a special assistant to the head coach for people that I trust and respect. Of course, after Coach (Landon) Bussie got that tremendous blessing to go to Alcorn, we needed to fill a slot. About seven to ten coaches called me and said that if you needed a good coach, someone that’s loyal and works hard and can do a myriad of things, Coach Villarreal may be the guy you want to talk to.”
“He’s well-liked and well-respected, and I thought he’d be a nice fit for what we do here at Prairie View,” Smith said. “He reached out to us and was really aggressive about it. He really wanted it. He felt like it would be a good opportunity and felt that we’ve had some really good success here. He wanted to be a part of that, and he had the right people make the phone call for him. Sometimes it’s not about what you know, but who you know. He knew the right people who knew the right person – which was me – and it all worked out.”
“I knew it was a no-brainer, given what Coach (Byron) Smith and the staff has done in winning back-to-back SWAC championships and going to the NCAA tournament,” Villarreal said of accepting the position. “They likely would have gone in 2019 if not for COVID. I wanted to be a part of what he’s been able to establish here. I’m very lucky. I never would’ve thought I’d be here, but I’m fortunate, blessed, and grateful to be here. It’s been awesome so far, and I want to be a part of a three-peat. That’s what I came here to do, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
While at UTRGV, Villarreal was a part of back to back post season appearances at UTRGV (CBI and CIT) for the first time since becoming a Division 1 program and the first ever Division 1 post season victory (CIT) over SWAC foe Grambling State.
While there, he managed virtually all operational aspects of the Vaqueros’ basketball program. Villarreal’s primary responsibilities included assisting with academics, coordination of team travel, organization of team calendar and community service, budget, housing compliance liaison, housing, admissions, director of summer basketball camps and oversight of student managers.
Prior to UTRGV, the Corpus Christi, Texas native spent two years at Southern Miss, where he began by assisting with player growth and recruiting before earning a promotion as the team’s video coordinator. In that role, Villarreal played a pivotal part in scouting and game plan development.
Villarreal also spent three seasons as a student manager for Texas Tech. He assisted the program with recruiting visits, film, and video breakdown, and coordination of office projects.
“I’ve worn many hats in my young career,” Villarreal said. “Now Coach (Byron) Smith has given me the opportunity to be an assistant coach at the Division I level for the first time. Now it’s about getting to work. It’s all about working hard and getting it done. It’s been a great experience, and I’ve had a great time.”
Villarreal has already gotten acclimated to this year’s team, and based on his early assessment, he – along with the rest of the staff – he feels confident that the Panthers will have something to say about matters once the Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball season tips off.
“We’re very talented, and we’re tough. We’ve got a lot of new faces, but Coach Smith and the staff have brought in a great group of guys that are very respectful and eager to learn. We have the talent for a three-peat,” Villarreal said.
The Panthers recent run of dominance in the conference was a point of interest for Villarreal, who has served under marquee coaches like Tubby Smith, Doc Sadler, and Billy Gillespie.
“I have a lot of great mentors, so coming in I wasn’t worried because I know my work ethic and who I’ve worked for and learned from,” he said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I’ve learned from some of the best coaches in the country. There’s a lot of excitement and humbleness, and I’m ready to roll.”
Villarreal earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise & Sport Sciences from Texas Tech in 2014 and his Master of Science in Sports Management from Southern Mississippi in 2016.