MO State HS Sports

Report: Dennis Gates is lead candidate for Mizzou men’s hoops job

It looks like Mizzou may be close to ending its search for a new men’s basketball coach.

Pete Thamel of ESPN reports that Cleveland State head coach Dennis Gates has emerged as the lead candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy at Mizzou.

Gates has spent the last three seasons as head coach at Cleveland State, winning the Horizon League championship in back-to-back years. He carries a 50-40 overall record at the school. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State for eight seasons.

Mizzou fired Cuonzo Martin last Friday, after he spent five seasons in Columbia and went 78-77 overall with two NCAA tournament appearances.


Andy Humphrey: “If this is indeed the hire, I don’t think Mizzou fans can complain too much about it.

This program has gotten to a point in the search where a mid-major coach looking for a step up seemed to be the only option. That’s when it turns to almost a complete guessing game as to who’s the most desirable. But I’m mainly impressed by guys that can win at schools that haven’t featured a history of winning. The fact that Gates turned around a program that was 49 games under .500 in four seasons prior should stand out. Those clamoring for Cuonzo Martin to go away kept pointing to other examples of coaches being able to make quick turnarounds once taking over a down program. Well, Gates just did that.

His teams defensive metrics are solid. His experience in Power Five make this job not seem too big for him. He’s young and is known to be innovative. He’s well-spoken, and could probably win over some skeptics at an introductory press conference.

Of course, it’ll all come down to this: can he bring in more talent than the last guy did? We’ll see.”

Brenden Schaeffer: “I’ve said throughout this process that if my initial reaction to the hire was skepticism, that Mizzou was probably doing something right. Desiree Reid-Francois is a respected figure in collegiate athletics, and I was encouraged that she recognized the necessity for change amid the disappointing direction of this season at Missouri. DRF knows the importance of nailing this hire. Based on her pedigree, I decided I would mentally trust her to make it a good one.

Do I have concerns? Sure. Gates has an underwhelming 50-40 record in three seasons at a Horizon League program. I had it in my head that I’d like to see Mizzou poach a Mid-Major coach who has demonstrated a substantial track record of winning. Well, Gates doesn’t quite meet that threshold.

But the idea that already in his second year at the helm, he had brought Cleveland State from perennial also-ran to an NCAA Tournament bid? That’s the kind of quick turnaround that I’ve touted as being extremely realistic in the modern college basketball landscape. And imagine the recruiting advantages that Gates should enjoy at an SEC program relative to that which he experiences in the Horizon League.

The talent pool should expand for Gates, similar to the way he recruited legitimate talent as an assistant under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State.

It’s not a sexy hire. I’m not sure whether Gates is going to be as forward-thinking on NIL as I was hoping to see from this hire. But I’m willing to acknowledge that we don’t need to have all the answers today. As Gates works to build his program in Columbia, time will tell whether his arrival can be considered the move that put Mizzou basketball on the stable footing it has sought for nearly a decade.”