STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton has landed one of the best floor generals in the country and its point guard for the 2022-23 season.
The Texans announced the signing of University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) graduate transfer Mayra Caicedo on Tuesday.
Caicedo ranked third in the nation in total assists (175) and assists per game (6.7) during her first of two seasons with UALR in 2020-21. She was masterful again at both ends of the floor this past season. Caicedo averaged a career-best 7.6 points per game along with 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per outing to guide UALR to a 17-10 overall record and semifinals appearance in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
Originally from Buga, Colombia, Caicedo played two seasons for junior college powerhouse New Mexico JC before ascending to the D1 ranks.
“Personally, I felt safe and loved when I visited Tarleton,” Caicedo said of her decision to sign with the Texans. “Since I am an international player and I don’t have my family close by, I feel that being part of this family could help me physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is such a privilege to get to spend time with people who genuinely love basketball, want the best for you, and work hard every day as a human being to be better for themselves and others. I believe coach [Misty] Wilson is a coach of great character and integrity. I feel that there is a strong connection between the coaches and me. I trust that they will be excellent mentors for me to improve not only athletically, but as a person.
“I chose Tarleton because I feel that they will give me unconditional support on and off the court,” Caicedo continued. “I felt like they were genuine, honest, and made an effort to let me know more about them as human beings than just as coaches. This is something that means a lot to me because since I have been in the USA, I have not experienced it that much. I believe that by contributing my knowledge, talent, and experience, we can do great things.”
Winning has followed Caicedo at each stop on her basketball journey. She amassed a combined record of 80-36 between her time in Hobbs and Little Rock. Caicedo guided New Mexico JC to a 29-6 overall mark and a trip to the NJCAA Division I National Championship Game as a freshman in 2018-19. She has been a member of the Colombia women’s national basketball team since she turned 17. Caicedo has dished out 515 career dimes in four years of college basketball.
“It’s easy to see why we recruited Mayra Caicedo, the basketball player,” said head coach Misty Wilson. “What is unseen to many is Mayra Caicedo, the person. Mayra has overcome a great deal in life and continues to defy odds, on and off the floor. She is a remarkable human, in that, she is considerate of others, hardworking, confident, and has a vivacious personality that reflects her proud Colombian heritage. Mayra will work hard at every aspect of being a student athlete, not take anything for granted, and will bring others along with her. She is exactly the type of player we want in our program and running the point for us.”
Caicedo received All-Sun Belt Conference third team honors in both seasons with UALR.
Arguably no player shouldered a heavier workload for the Trojans than Caicedo. She averaged 36 minutes per game for her career and spent a total of 964 minutes on the court for UALR in 2021-22. Caicedo memorably played 54 of a possible 55 minutes in a triple overtime affair vs. Texas State on Jan. 27.
The 5-3 guard was among the nation’s leaders in several major statistical categories over her two-year run in Little Rock.
She concluded the 2021-22 campaign ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and 35th among all D1 players in assists per game and finished 55th in total assists (125) and 143rd in steals per game. Caicedo had a large hand in helping the Trojans close out the regular season by playing their best basketball of the winter. She averaged 8.5 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game and shot 31 percent from behind the arc in conference play to steer UALR to victories in seven of its last eight regular season games and notch a fourth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference.
Caicedo suited up in all 27 games and made 26 starts for the Trojans during her senior season. Her development at the offensive end of the court was readily apparent. She scored in double figures on eight occasions, including a career-high 15 points in a victory over South Alabama on Jan. 22. Caicedo first reached double figures in 2021-22 when she scored 13 points to pair with eight assists in a 57-49 win against Auburn on Nov. 24.
Her junior year was unquestionably the apex of her time in Little Rock.
She concluded the season ranked 29th nationally in total minutes (944) and 55th in minutes per game (36.3) while leading the Sun Belt Conference in both categories. Caicedo started and played in all 26 games for the Trojans, averaging 6.7 assists, 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. She began to hone in her shooting stroke upon her arrival in the Natural State. Caicedo shot 31 percent from 3-point range and scored in double figures five times.
Caicedo’s record-setting run in 2020-21 featured a number of notable performances. She dished out a career-best 17 assists in a game against Louisiana-Monroe on Jan. 29, 2021. Caicedo scored a season-high 14 points twice, first in an 82-74 win over Vanderbilt on Dec. 5, 2021, as a part of a double-double effort. Her first double-double came four days prior to the Trojans’ triumph against the Commodores. Caicedo racked up 10 points and 10 rebounds to stake UALR to a 61-52 victory against Memphis. She reached double digit assists in six games.
“What stands out about Mayra on the floor is how passionately she plays the game, her ability to beat primary defenders, allow opportunity to develop, then make the play when given the opportunity,” Wilson said. “Additionally, Mayra is a crafty and confident defender, which is essential when playing in our program. I am excited to work with Mayra, to be in her corner, as she continues to pursue the goals and dreams she has set for herself on and off the floor.”
It did not take long for Caicedo to transition to the collegiate level upon her arrival at New Mexico JC. She was a key contributor on the Thunderbirds’ flight to the NJCAA Division I National Championship game. Caicedo averaged 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals across 15.7 minutes per game, finishing with 108 assists and 75 steals.
Caicedo then flashed her defensive prowess as a sophomore in 2019-20. She was named the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Thunderbirds to a 19-9 overall record and averaging 5.6 points, 3.3 assists, 3.1 steals and 2.8 rebounds per contest.
She first tantalized her prospects of playing professionally when she represented Colombia at the 2018 FIBA U18 America’s Championship. Caicedo led her team to the semifinals of the tournament and a fourth-place finish. She was honored as a First Team All-Star after she averaged 27.9 minutes, 16.5 points, 4.7 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.5 rebounds throughout the competition.
Caicedo believes Tarleton is the program to enable her to attain her post-graduate aspirations.
“I trust that the staff will work very hard to help not only me but also my teammates to improve our game and skills for our next step,” she said. “My dream is to go as far as my talent and effort takes me. In addition, the whole staff gives me the confidence that I can do it, and that they are going to push me to improve and reach my goals. I am excited and I will pay the price to reach it. All successful people have a vision for their future. No one can achieve their goals unless they have a clear vision of where they’re headed and what they want to do with their lives, and I am one of them.”
Caicedo is a 2018 graduate of San Vicente de Paul High School in Buga, Colombia. She was named the school’s “Best Athlete” for three state academic years.
The addition of Caicedo swells Tarleton’s 2022 recruiting class to five members. She is the fourth transfer and fourth guard the Texans have added to their roster. The program previously publicized the signings of guards Teresa Da Silva (Arizona Western CC), Viktoria Ivanova (South Plains CC) and Jordan Wright (Frisco HS) and Arkansas State transfer forward Karolina Szydlowska.