Missouri Tigers expected to hire Dennis Gates as men’s basketball coach

Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates is expected to become the next men’s basketball coach at Missouri, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

The hiring is pending approval of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, which would need to call a meeting to approve Gates’ contract. As of Saturday night, there has been no public notice of a meeting, which makes the timing likely to happen in the upcoming days.

PowerMizzou and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported details of the potential board meeting.

Gates won back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles at Cleveland State, and took his team to the NCAA tournament in 2021. He spent eight seasons under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, where he established himself as one of the country’s top assistant coaches.

In Gates’ three seasons at Cleveland State, he went 50-40 overall and 38-21 in league play.

His experience at Florida State and three successful seasons at Cleveland State made Gates one of the most sought-after coaches in the current coaching carousel, as he drew interest from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and a majority of the open major conference jobs .

Gates, 42, will replace Cuonzo Martin, who went 78-77 in his five seasons at Missouri. He’s the first marquee hire in a revenue sport for first-year athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, who arrived at Missouri in August.

Gates takes over a proud program that’s faded from relevancy in recent years, as the school hasn’t won a game in the NCAA tournament since 2010. Three consecutive Missouri coaches — Frank Haith, Kim Anderson and Martin — failed to win an NCAA tournament game. The school has never reached a Final Four.

Gates is a Cal graduate and was a solid player there. He started 34 games and was a three-time captain. He’s a Chicago native and starred at Whitney Young High before heading west for college.

His career included a role with the LA Clippers as a skill development coach and then assistant-coaching stints at Marquette, Cal, Northern Illinois and Nevada before he joined Hamilton’s staff.

At Florida State, Gates’ reputation grew in part because of his success as a recruiter. He helped attract future NBA lottery pick Jonathan Isaac and high-end recruits like Dwayne Bacon, MJ Walker and Terance Mann. He emerged as a key staff cog as Hamilton built Florida State into an annual NCAA tournament team and ACC title contender.

At Cleveland State, Gates took over for Dennis Felton on July 26, 2019, an unusually late time in the coaching cycle for a switch. Felton left a wheezing program that had lost eight straight conference games to open his final season in 2018-19.

Gates immediately injected an adrenaline shot into the program, quickly upgrading the roster and altering the trajectory of the program.

Cleveland State went 16-4 in the Horizon League in 2020-21 and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Gates’ team did the same this season, winning the league and finishing with a 15-6 conference record.

Gates’ wife, Jocelyn, is a senior associate athletic director at Ohio State.

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