Northern New Mexico College hired former NBA player and University of New Mexico star J.R. Giddens as the new head coach for the women’s basketball program.
“Really excited and blessed,” Giddens said of getting the position. “Happy that I can get a coaching job out there and continue my basketball journey going into coaching.”
Giddens replaces Mario Caetano, who left the school to accept an assistant position at Division II Adams State University in Colorado, under Jaime Green.
Caetano coached the final eight games in the 2018-2019 season as the interim head coach. He was the permanent head coach for the 2019-2020 season, when the Eagles finished 7-19 but won their final four games.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was the head coach there in the next couple years,” Northern Athletic Director Ryan Cordova said of Caetano.
Caetano graduated from Northern, and was the associate head coach for the men’s basketball team for five years before becoming the women’s head coach.
“I feel like, along with Ryan (Cordova), I was one of the pioneers that helped lay the foundation and helped build that athletic program,” Caetano said. “I’m extremely grateful for having the time there and the relationships that I was able to create while I was there as a student and as a coach.”
Giddens played two years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. He then spent the next decade playing internationally in many different countries before deciding to go into coaching.
“It’s not every day you get a McDonald’s All-American, a former all-conference player as a Lobo, and then go off and be a first-round draft pick in the NBA,” Cordova said.
Cordova said Giddens played for two of the best coaches in college basketball in Bill Self at Kansas and Steve Alford at UNM.
“If he comes in and does his job and does everything that I think that he can, he probably won’t be here for long,” Cordova said. “He’ll probably be moving on and taking a D-I, D-II job somewhere else.”
Cordova said Brooklyn Crawford was expected to be the best player on the team, but missed last year with a torn ACL. She will be back for this year.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has canceled all fall sports, and are waiting for an announcement regarding winter sports. With Northern closed, the team is not having any team practices.