LAS CRUCES, N.M. (July 9) - New Mexico State women's basketball head coach Mark Trakh announced changes to his coaching staff Monday with the promotion of Aarika Hughes to the program's second assistant position and the hiring of Stacey Nichols as the Aggies' third assistant coach.
During her first season with NM State as an assistant, Hughes helped departed senior forward Tabytha Wampler break into the 1,000-point club during the 2011-12 campaign. As a former guard/forward, she mentored the Aggies on the floor in practice as well as games.
Off the court, Hughes handled game-related duties for the Aggies as the staff's opponent contact. Hughes has also been a vital recruiter for the program since her arrival in the Mesilla Valley last summer.
"Aarika is a proven recruiter and great all-around assistant," Trakh said. "She has recruited really well for us as a young assistant coach. She has earned the respect of our kids and she is visible in the community. We hope to keep her with us for a long time."
Trakh is very familiar with Hughes after recruiting her to play for him at the University of Southern California. They spent three seasons together in Los Angeles from 2007-09. Hughes graduated in 2010 with a degree in psychology.
Hughes replaces former Aggie assistant Jamie Shadian who left the staff to pursue other opportunities at a Division I basketball program.
Hughes is very familiar with new Aggie assistant Stacey Nichols. The two are close friends and were former high school teammates at Southridge High School in Beaverton, Ore. Both went on to play collegiately at Pac-12 schools, Hughes at USC and Nichols at Oregon State.
The pair only lost five games in three years at Southridge and claimed the 4A state title as seniors while ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today. Together they completed an undefeated 29-0 season as juniors and won the state title while finishing No. 22 in the rankings.
Nichols joins the Aggie coaching staff after one season as an assistant coach at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla. She joined the Raiders' women's basketball program in June 2011. Nichols' primary responsibilities at NFSC involved recruiting, game evaluation, scouting and working with the Raider post players.
Prior to her hire at NFSC, she helped organize the Essence Girls Basketball on the Bayou Tournament in New Orleans. She served as a liaison to the tournament director while helping numerous high school and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams register and check into the tourney.
As a student-athlete Nichols played all four seasons at Oregon State, ending her career in 2010. She was a three-time team captain for the Beavers and claimed the Carol Menken-Schaudt Leadership Award twice. Nichols also was a member of the Pac-10 All-Academic team.
While at OSU, Nichols started 55 games and played in 91 contests over her four-year career. As a sophomore, the 6-1 guard scored a career-high 12 points against Western Oregon. Later that season Nichols corralled a career-best 10 rebounds against rival Oregon. She finished her career at Oregon State with 124 points, 188 rebounds, 30 assists and a 72.7 free throw percentage.
In 2010, Nichols earned a bachelor's degree in Speech Communication from Oregon State.
"I think Stacey will be an excellent recruiter for us just like Aarika," Trakh said. "She is youthful, talented and energetic. I think she will connect well with our kids and potential recruits. She's going to be an asset to our staff. I think we have a great future ahead with this current group of coaches."
Nichols joins Hughes and top assistant Tamara Inoue on head coach Mark Trakh's staff.