Coaches

Head Coach - Dr. Carson Cunningham

Dr. Carson Cunningham, who earned a PhD in history from Purdue University and an MBA from DePaul University, recently completed his first season as head coach of the Carroll College Men's Basketball program. In his first campaign at Carroll, the former standout player at both Oregon State and Purdue, took the Fighting Saints from two wins to nine and helped the squad lower its points allowed from 78.8 to 70.5. The Fighting Saints finished the year as the NAIA’s top free-throw shooting team and were 12th best in NAIA D-1 three-point shooting.  

 Prior to coming to Carroll College, Dr. Cunningham spent five years coaching at Andrean High School (his alma mater) in Merrillville, Indiana, where his teams have won 43 of their last 50 games. In conjunction with his coaching duties, Dr. Cunningham was an instructor in the history department and the department of cinema and digital media at DePaul University in Chicago from 2006-2013.

Dr. Cunningham’s basketball resume as a player is also remarkably impressive. After winning back-to-back high school player of the year awards in Northwest Indiana and earning first team Indiana All-State recognition, he went to Oregon State University, where he was the starting point guard as a true freshman, earning freshman All-America honors and breaking Gary Payton’s freshman scoring record for Oregon State.
Following his freshman season, Dr. Cunningham transferred back to his home state of Indiana, joining Coach Gene Keady’s Purdue Boilermakers.  He became a three-year starter and led Purdue to a pair of “Sweet 16” appearances and one spot in the “Elite Eight.”  In his three seasons, Dr. Cunningham scored nearly 1,000 points, handed out near 400 assists and had 163 rebounds. Upon finishing at Purdue, he was also one of only three two-time Academic All-America selections in the history of the university, with the late legendary Coach John Wooden being one of the others. 

Dr. Cunningham also spent three seasons playing professional basketball.  He was with the Gary Steelheads (2001-2002) and the Rockford Lightning (2002-2003 and 2004-2005). He played in the Estonian Basketball Association and in Australia as well. 

Dr. Cunningham is the author of three books: American Hoops, Underbelly Hoops, and Before the Curse, a collection of vintage stories about the Chicago Cubs during their glory years.



Dr. Cunningham and his wife, Christy, a former volleyball standout at Purdue, have four children – daughters Caroline (8) and Catie Joy (3), and sons Case (6) and Indiana (1).  

Assistant Coach - Dan Pearson

Dan is heading into his first season as a member of head coach Carson Cunningham's staff.  An alumnus of the storied Carroll College Men's Basketball program, Dan brings valuable knowledge and experience to the sidelines.  In addition to competing for the Saints from 2008-2012, Dan served for two seasons (2011, 2013) as an assistant coach for Carroll Hall of Famer Guy Almquist at Helena Capital High School, where he helped lead the Bruins to a runner-up finish at the state tournament in 2013. 

Dan is also heavily involved in NBC Camps, having worked camps all across the world for seven years, and is the co-founder of Elite League Basketball Academies, whose presence stretches across the state of Montana.  Dan is a 2008 graduate of Billings Central Catholic High School.

Assistant Coach - Carlito Labarda Jr.

CarlitoCoach Labarda Jr. is starting his first season at Carroll College under Coach Cunningham. Labarda attended Purdue University from 1994-1999, where he was a manager and student assistant coach under Hall of Fame Coach Gene Keady and, then assistant, Coach Bruce Weber (Kansas State). During his tenure at Purdue, the Boilermakers claimed two Big Ten Championships and made five straight NCAA appearances and advancing to the Sweet 16 twice.

 After leaving Purdue, Labarda coached at the high school level, beginning at Lakes High School in Tacoma WA., where he led the program from 2001-03.  After his two years at Lakes HS, Labarda Jr. became the Head Coach at Saint Anthony’s High School in Long Beach Ca. from 2003-05, where guided the Saints to a Final Four appearance in the CIF playoffs.

Labarda Jr. coached at the junior college level from 2006-11.  Labarda Jr.'s juco coaching experience came at El Camino College in Torrance, CA. and Los Angeles Harbor College.  Carlito has had the privilege of working camps throughout the nation during his coaching career, notably at the Michael Jordan Camp.  Labarda is originally from San Pedro, Ca.