For the past several years, Nicholls State University women’s basketball coach DoBee Plaisance has sold recruits on a vision – a world where the Colonels would rise up and become a power in the Southland Conference basketball scene.
One of the best local prep girls’ basketball players bought in.
She will now spend her college future as a Colonel.
Vandebilt Catholic standout senior guard Cassidy Barrios announced her commitment to Nicholls this week – a huge get for Plaisance and her staff.
A 5-foot, 11-inch guard, Barrios averaged 24 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior to go along with three steals per contest.
She said she’s excited and comfortable in knowing that she will be playing collegiately in front of her friends and her family.
“Nicholls is a good environment – a family environment,” Barrios said. “I think that I fit in really well over there, and I’ll be placed into a position to where I can succeed and make the most of my abilities. It was a good fit. I think that they’re on the way up, and I really liked the fact that they were so close to home. It was an all-around good fit for me.”
For Barrios, the decision to choose Nicholls comes after she posted one of the best individual seasons in Lady Terriers’ history in 2013-14.
The combo guard scored more than half of Vandebilt’s total points last season, and accounted for more than 65 percent of the team’s offensive output when one factors in her assists to set up other players’ points.
For her dominant offensive output, Barrios said she received interest from several smaller schools throughout the South, but her only other formal scholarship offer was from Loyola. She said that she made the decision to commit to the Colonels after speaking extensively with Plaisance and her lead recruiter Justin Payne, adding that Nicholls’ ascent in recent seasons made her comfortable that the team would succeed during her time in the program.
The Colonels were 17-14 last season, including an 11-7 mark in Southland play. Nicholls won their second-ever Southland Conference Tournament game in that season, defeating Oral Roberts 77-66 in opening-round play.
The Colonels figure to remain among the top-tier of the conference throughout at least the early portion of Barrios’ career, as top players like guards Emani White, Hope Pawlowski and Taylor Morrison are still underclassmen with multiple seasons left to compete with the team.
Barrios said she’s been told that she will be a “shooting guard/small forward” in college – possibly in the same type of role as Jenny Nash currently plays with the team.
Being a versatile player is something that Barrios takes pride in as an avid fan of Cleveland Cavaliers standout LeBron James – the player she said she modeled her game after on the floor.
“Coach Plaisance told me that they started at the bottom, but now they are building themselves up and are starting to win a lot of games,” Barrios said. “The coaches seemed very confident that they are on the verge of winning a bunch of championships. For me, I’m very competitive, so I want to be a part of that. That’s something that really appealed to me, because I want to win.”
Barrios’ desire to win comes after one of the most mediocre girls’ basketball seasons in the past decade for Vandebilt – one of the big reasons why she opted to make her collegiate choice before the start of the season.
The Lady Terriers finished just 13-15 last season, falling in the opening round of the Class 4A State Playoffs to Cabrini – snapping a long streak of State Semifinals appearances for Vandebilt.
Barrios said she had a strong desire to make her collegiate choice before basketball season began so that she could have a clear mind for the upcoming season – a year that she hopes will be a huge turnaround campaign for Vandebilt.
That philosophy has been popular among local players throughout the fall, as Ellender standout Kiara Scott committed to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in July and Thibodaux’s Jewel Triggs pledged to George Mason in August. Both cited a desire to focus on their senior seasons as the reason for the timing of their commitments.
“I wanted to get this out of the way so that I could have a clear focus on my senior year,” Barrios said. “I didn’t want to have to spend any time worrying about which college I was going to or what colleges were sending me letters or anything like that. I wanted to get this all out of the way so that I could make sure that my last year here goes exactly how we want it to go.”
Because of her dedication to Vandebilt’s rebuilding efforts, a lot of the questions Barrios seemed most eager to answer were about this year’s Lady Terriers’ squad.
For the second-straight season, Vandebilt will have a first-year head coach for its girls’ basketball program. That change in direction comes after the team went more than two decades without hiring a new coach when former coach Kathy Luke ran the program for more than 20 seasons, leading the team to its only Class 4A State Championship.
The team replaced 2013-14 coach Katrell Dixon after his lone season with the team, opting against renewing his contract for another year.
Dixon was replaced with veteran coach Kiely Schork, who joins the team after spending three seasons as the head coach at Archbishop Chapelle, leading the team to the State Quarterfinals in one of her seasons.
As a player at Loyola, Schork was top-notch, as well. She owns the school’s all-time record for made 3-pointers (501) and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
Barrios said she believes in her new coach and her teammates, adding that she plans to go out with a bang and head into Nicholls’ program on a winning note.
“I’m looking forward to being a leader on the court. I’m looking forward to helping my teammates, because we have a little bit of a younger team,” Barrios said. “We want to get back to our winning ways and get this program going back into the right direction.”
Vandebilt Catholic standout guard Cassidy Barrios poses with a ball inside the Terriers’ competition gym on Friday afternoon. Barrios committed to Nicholls State University this week.