Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Yancy Gates

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  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 290 pounds, senior power forward from Cincinnati
  • Key Stats: 12.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, .9 blocks per game, 47 percent shooting
  • Projected: Second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

I’m a sucker for redemption stories, and Gates has one. He was a key participant in an ugly brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier early in the college season. He was suspended for his part in that brawl. But what I admired about Gates was his ability to honestly and emotionally take responsibility for what he did. From USA Today:

Yancy Gates said he feared his career as a Cincinnati basketball player would be over when he watched video replays of the melee that prematurely ended Saturday’s basketball game against Xavier.

“Never to wear the jersey again,” he said Monday during an unscripted news conference at which the school’s four suspended players apologized for their roles in the fight. Referees ended the game, won by host Xavier 76-53, after the fight broke out with 9.4 seconds left.

Gates’ emotion in the video that accompanies that link is real. He made a mistake, but I respect that he had the ability to admit he was wrong and that’s not the type of person he is.

Pros for the Pistons

The Pistons need toughness inside, and Gates certainly has that. He’s also already got the prototypical game of a reserve NBA big man. He can rebound a little, he can move his feet and take a charge, he’s strong enough to not give up post position, he can run the floor and finish and he can knock down a 15-footer. The Pistons got good value out of another Cincinnati big man, Jason Maxiell, late in the first round. Gates isn’t the explosive athlete Maxiell is, but if he’s available when the Pistons are picking late in the second round, he’s worth a look to add some depth to the frontcourt.

Plus, Gates is a very good offensive rebounder. The Pistons have two other guys who are solid on the offensive glass in Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. Another active big who can get them extra possessions through activity on the offensive boards would never hurt.

Cons for the Pistons

Gates shares a not-so-great distinction with Maxiell too: he’s sometimes struggled with his conditioning. That might not be as big an issue for Gates as it was for Maxiell. Gates is bigger and has a more reliable jumper whereas Maxiell is undersized and relies much more on athleticism, but it’s still something teams interested in drafting Gates will be wary of.

He also doesn’t have much of a back-to-the-basket game and sometimes shoots too many jumpshots.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

  • Big physical player
  • Terrific offensive rebounder
  • Strong and physical in the paint
  • Good athlete who runs the floor
  • Can knock down an open jumper from midrange


One area where Gates has visibly improved, however, is on the offensive boards. As a senior, Gates was one of the better offensive rebounds in the country averaging 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Though he doesn’t usually box out, his combination of strength, soft hands, length, instincts and leaping ability allow him to grab offensive rebounds and bring the ball straight back up to the basket. If he’s able to improve his effort and focus-level as he matures he could be a very good offensive rebounder and finisher.


Then again, perhaps no active player in the nation has endured as much of a roller-coaster career as Gates, though some of the adversity was of his own making. In December, who could have ever believed this 6-foot-9 forward would be leading the Bearcats to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2001?

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick said.

The senior forward was disappointed that the Bearcats didn’t continue on to the Elite Eight, but not disappointed in what he accomplished during his four years at UC.

“I did what I signed on to do,” Gates said. “Overall, it was a good run. I wanted to win, but considering where we came from this season and where the program came from, it came a long way from the year before I signed to now we’re in the Sweet 16. I’m happy.”

Bearcats Insider:

But when push came to shove, Yancy Gates opted to sign with the hometown Bearcats and play for Mick Cronin. He spurned thriving programs to stay home and help with the rebuilding process. This is what some Bearcat fans have forgotten about Gates especially when they are so quick to rain down criticism upon him. The fact that he opted to play for a Cincinnati program that was just two seasons removed from one of the biggest Self-Imposed Death Penalty moves college basketball has ever seen speaks highly of his character.

What is the best thing Yancy Gates does for his team?

Matt Opper (follow him on Twitter) writes for Down the Drive, SB Nation’s Cincinnati blog:

The best thing that Yancy Gates does is rebound. He is a competent offensive player, he is OK on the block and is comfortable with his jumper out to 18 feet. Too comfortable. Yancy is also a very underrated defender with great strength and exceptionally quick hands for a big. But if you like to think of draft prospects in terms of their elite skills I think that the most advanced aspect is his ability to rebound, particularly on the offensive glass. He lead the Bearcats in rebounding all four years, something that has never happened before at UC, which is saying something. With Yancy the offense will come, but he will make his money on the glass early on.



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