Aarika Hughes begins her fifth season as an assistant coach at NM State in 2015-16. She has assisted head coach Mark Trakh, whom she played for at Southern California, all four seasons he has been with the program. Among her many duties, Hughes plays an integral part in recruiting players to NM State.
Hughes was part of a coaching staff that in 2014-15 season saw the Aggies make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 27 years after winning both the Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. It was the first conference title in 20 years and first-ever tournament championship for the program. NM State finished the season 22-8 overall and 13-1 in WAC play.
In the 2013-14 season, Hughes helped the Aggies to an 11-20 overall record while going 7-9 in conference play. With a majority of their games on the road, the Aggies averaged 71.4 points per game with a -2.8 scoring margin against their opponents.
At the 2014 WAC Championship, Hughes and fellow assistant Tamara Inoue led the Aggies to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2008. She helped guide the Aggies to a come-from-behind win over No. 4 Texas Pan American in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 seed Idaho 65-75.
Hughes also coached four players to average double-figure scoring throughout the season. Hughes and the Aggies won back-to-back games on three occasions and picked up a nail-biting overtime win against Utah Valley 83-78.
In her second year with the Aggies, Hughes helped coach the 2012-13 Aggies to more than double the wins from the previous season and finish with a 15-16 overall record and 7-11 in the WAC. She aided in NM State defeating the defending Conference USA champions UTEP as part of the Battle of I-10 Rivalry Series.
The Aggies also worked to the program’s highest scoring game in 21 years, when NM State topped then-WAC leading Utah State 106-94. The Aggies also notched another milestone in the record books with the 600th program victory in the 87-81 win over Cal State Bakersfield.
With the assistance of Hughes, NM State garnered three WAC Player of the Week Awards during the latter part of the 2012-13 season and senior Stefanie Gilbreath was named Newcomer of the Year and All-WAC Second Team. She helped the Aggies reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 WAC Championships before falling to No.1 seed Seattle.
Hughes joined the staff in 2011 as the third assistant to the program and was promoted to second assistant prior to the 2012-13 season.
Hughes spent much of 2010 in her home state of Oregon coaching an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) squad named Team Concept, based in Portland.
Trakh coached Hughes at USC for three seasons, from 2007-09. She graduated in 2010 with a degree in psychology.
The 6-2 guard/forward was a proven 3-point threat for the Women of Troy who could also play in the post and crash the boards. Hughes finished her career with the fifth-best single-season 3-point field goal percentage of 40.9 when she drained 18-of-44 from beyond the arc in 2007-08 under Trakh.
During her 2009-10 senior campaign at USC, Hughes started 30 of 31 games for the Women of Troy, averaging 26.4 minutes per game. Hughes averaged 7.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in her final season. She was second on the team in rebounds, third in points scored and third in 3-point field goals made as a senior. The four-year letterwinner led the team in scoring twice and was the leading rebounder on nine occasions.
Hughes was a team captain as a junior and appeared in all 32 games with 18 starts. She led the team in defensive rebounds with 3.8 per game while averaging 4.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game. Hughes opened the season with back-to-back, double-digit rebounding efforts with 11 and 13 vs. Charlotte and Milwaukee, and was named to the Wolfpack Invitational All-Tournament Team for her efforts. She led team in rebounding in seven games.
As a sophomore, Hughes battled a foot injury while appearing in 18 games. She averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and led the team in 3-point shooting percentage, going 18-of-44 (.409) to lead the team. During her freshman season, Hughes started once and played in 18 games as a true freshman but was sidelined for 12 games with a stress fracture in her foot, returning on Jan. 18. Hughes averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game and played 13.2 minutes per game in her first season at USC.
At Southridge High School in Beaverton, Ore., Hughes lost only five games in three years. She averaged 10 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 2.9 spg as a senior to help Southridge win the 4A state title and finish the season ranked No. 6 in the nation by USA Today. As a junior, Hughes averaged 12.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.9 spg and 2.4 apg, when Southridge went 29-0, won the state title and finished ranked No. 22 in the nation.
Hughes was named to the All-Oregon 4A first team by the Portland Oregonian and recognized with All-Oregon 4A State Tournament first team honors in 2006. She also received All-State first team honors in 2005 and second team honors in 2004. Additionally, Hughes was invited to the U.S. Under-20 National Team Trials while at Southridge.