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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Alumnus to take on duty of assistant coach

Lucas Gabriel, the new assistant coach of the Chico State men's basketball team. Courtesy of Chico Wildcats.

When offered the Wildcat’s assistant coaching job, Lucas Gabriel has just one thing to say.

“Where do I sign up?” Gabriel said.

The Chico State men’s basketball team will welcome back a familiar face to the sidelines this season. Gabriel, a graduate assistant from 2008-2010, will take on the role of head assistant coach for the upcoming season.

With the team’s success in the most recent seasons, it’s no surprise that Gabriel was quick to jump in.

“I took this opportunity to be with the best Division II basketball program on the West Coast,” Gabriel said. “This offer in my eyes is a lot better than Division I offers.”

A major difference Gabriel noticed when returning to Chico was the enthusiasm in the players’ voices when getting a call from the Wildcats.

The players just seem to be fired up, Gabriel said.

“Chico State has a formula that gets the job done,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel is right on track with this formula, spending two seasons under head coach Greg Clink in the past. Gabriel spent those seasons listening to Clink, going on recruiting trips and helping run practices. The two have a relationship that goes outside of basketball, including spending time with their families.

A moment that stuck out to Gabriel during his time as a grad assistant was during a major game in the season against Cal State Dominguez Hills. It was a game that came down to the last shot, and ended with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by alumni Jon Baird.

“I remember Gabriel was right in Clink’s ear wanting to run the play he drew up,” Baird said. “Gabriel is always prepared and brings a lot of energy.”

Baird also mentioned how close Gabriel was with his players and how skilled he is at scouting other teams.

After graduating from Chico State, Gabriel parted ways to Fresno City. There he won three consecutive league titles, two state Final Four appearances and a 2012 state championship.

“He was willing to constantly put his players needs before his own,” former Fresno City player Tommy Jordan said. “Whether it was dedicating time to work out with us, helping us with school or simply asking how our day went, he would always go the extra mile.”

In addition to his extra effort, work ethic is big in Gabriel’s eyes.

“One thing I guarantee is that no one will outwork Luke,” Jordan said.

Following that year, Gabriel headed out to Bellevue University in Nebraska to take on the head assistant job where they finished 29-6, grabbing a league championship and a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Sweet 16 appearance.

“I am so fortunate to be a part of winning programs,” Gabriel said. “All you can really say is that it feels good that the hard work is paying off.”

Gabriel will continue his journey on the sidelines with the Wildcats.

“I’m really excited to be back with this program,” he said.

Ryan Grady can be reached at [email protected] or @RyanGrady23 on Twitter.

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