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Dennis Gates NBA Draft Presser Notes

Dennis Gates met with the media via Zoom to discuss his perspective on the recently drafted Tigers as well as an update on offseason news.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Two former Tigers are NBA bound

Missouri added two athletes to the professional basketball brotherhood last night.

Kobe Brown was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 30 overall pick in the NBA Draft, making him the last selection of the first round.

“It took one conversation with Kobe Brown for him to be able to say ‘you know what, I have a good feeling about you Coach Gates,’” Gates said. “When there’s that synergy and trust there with their career in my hands and vice versa, something really special can happen.”

Brown will have the opportunity to learn behind some elite veteran forwards in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers organization, but Gates believed that the Huntsville, Al. native was a top-15 caliber player that could have landed elsewhere.

“They’re getting someone who is a winner, someone who is definitely focused and someone who has dreams and aspirations to become more,” Gates said. He went on to explain that he and his coaching staff have already been able to get Brown in touch with current Clippers forward Terance Mann, who played under Gates at Florida State.

D’Moi Hodge signed a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers shortly following the conclusion of the draft. Gates revealed that there were about 2-3 NBA franchises that were close to selecting Hodge on draft night.

“He has to be able to be prepared and open to any opportunity with the G-League, not just turning the switch on when it’s an NBA game,” Gates said. He also jokingly added that Hodge just needs to “get out of LeBron’s way, and when he catches the ball, he better be able to make some shots.”

Throughout the process, Gates and his staff made sure to make their presence known to their former players who were going through the grueling days of NBA workouts and training.

“I think it’s important to know that our staff went to Chicago to see these guys in the process, whether is was G-League or NBA Combine,” Gates said. “They need to continue to see familiar faces, and I’m going to demand that our assistants, no matter what city these guys are in, will be there to take them to breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.”

At the end of the day, Gates says that his main focus is for these guys to not just secure one NBA contract, but many more in the future.

How the 2023-24 team has come together

Despite all of the roster turnover that happens as a result of the transfer portal, Gates sticks with his three absolutes that he says will never change.

“I want to be the number one 3-point shooting team in the country. I want to have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. And I want to have at least one guy on an all-defensive team,” Gates said. His hope is that, with each incoming transfer, at least one of those aspects will be improved.

Gates went on to explain that it’s important for people to look at stats analytically regarding player efficiency ratings and margins, citing that that was a factor in how he evaluated some transfers.

Gates also delved into how he believes that the Tigers are not compromising their play style to add Connor Vanover’s size. He cited how Vanover shot better than 30% from 3-point land last season and had more blocks than Mizzou did as a team as main reasons. Gates also implores the media and fans to focus on humanizing Vanover and not constantly keying in on his height.

“I’ve coached several seven-footers in my career. We have to humanize them,” Gates said. “Sometimes that will allow a young man to give his very best when he’s not being looked at under a microscope. Everybody knows he’s 7-foot-5, we don’t need to ask him that anymore.”

Other Notes

  • Gates noted that he anticipates DeAndre Gholston and Tre Gomillion will pursue NBA G-League opportunities in the coming months. Also said that Ben Sternberg was present at Kobe Brown’s home on draft night.
  • “We fell short of some goals, and when you fall short on goals, there is an emotional component to it that you have to withstand. You have to be able to revisit the things that caused those shortcomings and how you can overcome them next season.” On how he evaluates last season
  • Gates explained that he hosts an annual dinner for all professional Missouri basketball alumnus to attend in Las Vegas during the NBA Summer League. Last year, Jeremiah Tilmon and Jontay Porter attended, and he anticipates having a larger crowd this time around.
  • “What we have to now do, by committee, is ask Aidan Shaw to step up and do first round things every day of his career. We have to ask Noah Carter to do first round things.” On what he wants to see from some of his returners this offseason, comparing them to how Kobe Brown approached last offseason