New Mizzou men’s basketball coach sets bar high with hopes to procure first-round draft pick

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Following another disappointing season, the University of Missouri relieved Coach Cuonzo Martin of his duties, and hired Dennis Gates as its new head coach. It marks the fifth head coaching change for the Tigers in 16 years.

Gates coached at Cleveland State University in Ohio for the last three seasons, compiling an overall record of 50-40. His time at Cleveland State included two Horizon League championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021. Gates was only the second coach in Cleveland State history to win Horizon League Coach of the Year (2019-2020). 

The new coach will take over a Missouri team that missed the NCAA tournament this season and had a losing record both overall and in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). 

Gates played basketball at the University of California, where he helped lead the team to three 20-win seasons. Prior to Cleveland State, Gates coached Division I basketball for 17 years, and was on the Florida State staff when the team reached the Elite Eight in 2018 and Sweet 16 in 2012 and 2019.

Martin went an uninspiring 78-77 in five seasons at Mizzou. Martin’s teams reached the NCAA tournament in only two of those seasons, and did not win a game either time. Missouri has not won a game in the NCAA tournament since 2010.

Gates is now headed from the Horizon League to the SEC, one of the most competitive leagues in the country. Moving from a small conference to a major conference was always going to be a challenge for Gates, but will be more so with the SEC’s additions of Oklahoma and Texas next year

Being a respected recruiter and inheriting a young team with only one senior, Gates has a lot to look forward to at the University of Missouri, as he noted in his opening speech at his new workplace. 

“One day, we will cut down nets and hold up trophies,” Gates said at his introductory press conference Tuesday. “We will raise banners. I, one day, will sit in the green room with a first-round draft pick. You, too, will sit and listen on the TV to that person getting drafted. How do we do that? We do it together. We do it the Mizzou way.”

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