This spring, old recruits are new again.
Only this time, a former headliner is seeking a reboot in Columbia.
On Friday night, Tamar Bates committed to Missouri on the heels of an official visit to a place he already knows plenty well. He was the prime target on former coach Cuonzo Martin’s board two years ago. But that staff missed out on Bates twice — once when he committed to Texas during his initial recruitment and again when the wing picked Indiana after coach Shaka Smart decamped for Marquette.
Ultimately, the third time was a charm.
It isn’t the victory after all— Tamar Bates (@tbates_11) April 15, 2023
But the fight that a Brother makes
A man when driven against the wall
Still stands erect and takes the blows of fate.
M-I-Z Let’s gooooo we HERE !! pic.twitter.com/9Gshc2iipz
Way back in April 2021, it was easy to see why Bates was drawn to Bloomington. The Hoosiers had just hired Mike Woodson, an alum toting a CV deep with NBA coaching experience, including stops as a head coach for the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks. The pitch to Bates was tantalizing: come play in an NBA system at a school with an established brand and potentially ample NIL infrastructure. A pair of outbound transfers — Armaan Franklin and Jerome Hunter also created potential for early minutes.
That backcourt quickly got crowded. Parker Stewart, a standout from UT-Martin, had committed over the winter. And two days after Bates signed on, IU added Miller Kopp from Northwestern.
Tamar Bates | Wing | 6-5, 198 pounds | 2022-23
After extended minutes in non-conference play, Bates saw his floor time dwindle as IU entered Big Ten play, which isn’t uncommon for a freshman. Yet, as a sophomore, his role expanded modestly. Bates averaged 6.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game, but Kopp remained entrenched as a starter. From February forward Bates only logged more than 20 minutes twice.
Still, Kopp was set to depart, leaving Bates as the incumbent for those minutes. Instead, he opted to seek a restart elsewhere.
One suspects the Hoosiers’ stylistic approach didn’t mesh with Bates’ vision. Last season, Bates spent long stretches playing off the ball and rarely had a role in powering IU’s half-court attack. But when you have Trayce Jackson-Davis as a focal point, it’s only natural to have him at the center of an orbit. And when the All-American big man wasn’t getting touches, Woodson leaned heavily on Xavier Johnson and five-star freshmen Jalen Hood-Schifino to crack defenses open off the bounce.
Almost 75 percent of Bates’ shots were jumpers, and most of those attempts were of the catch-and-shoot variety. Put another way, half of Bates’ shots were stationary 3-balls. Meanwhile, he averaged less than one shot per game at the rim.
But Bates’ shooting stroke is his best asset. Last season, he canned 39.5 percent of those catch-and-shoot 3s, per Synergy Sports tracking data. At a minimum, Gates added another potential floor spacer to the roster. For Bates, the move to Columbia is a search for a scheme that diversifies his opportunities and uses his jumper as a launch point. One area where Bates might benefit is as a rim finisher, where assistant Charlton Young has some expertise, and trimming back contested pull-ups.
Coming out of high school, though, Bates was billed as one of the better defenders in his class. He filled that niche on a loaded roster when he moved to IMG Academy for his senior season. He graded well enough at IU as an on-ball stopper, allowing 0.76 PPP when guarding pick-and-rolls, handoffs, and isolations. However, the metrics say he struggled as an off-ball defender, especially on spot-up jumpers. That said, opposing guards drilled 36.4 percent of contested 3s against him, per Synergy data.
During portal season, we focus on players who can make an immediate impact in the short time they’re on campus. Bates, however, qualifies as a longer-term play. While at IU, his jumper legitimately improved. He could give MU a legitimate defensive weapon on the perimeter with some cleanup work. That 3-and-D role is essential in today’s game, and it could provide Bates a way station to start maxing out his immense potential.
Let’s Meet Tamar Bates
- From: Kansas City, Kan.
- Previous School: Indiana
- Position: Wing
- Ht/Wt: 6-5/195
- Rivals Ranking: NR
- 247Composite Ranking: 0.9100 (T)/0.9892 (HS)
- Total announced offers: Missouri, Kansas State, Michigan
- Offers to note: Kansas State
What they’re saying:
NEWS: Indiana transfer Tamar Bates has committed to Missouri, he told @On3sports.— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) April 15, 2023
Story w/ quotes: https://t.co/KL1crKZXB0 pic.twitter.com/vlMgAblLXv
Indiana guard Tamar Bates tells @247SportsPortal he's committed to #Mizzou “Coach Gates, I’d heard nothing but good things about him and after talking to him and getting to know him more I can see why everybody raves about him and his character." Story: https://t.co/0ihuIvRUGA pic.twitter.com/1lYLNYdHVY— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) April 15, 2023
Indiana transfer Tamar Bates has committed to Missouri and Dennis Gates, a source told me.— 24/7 High School Hoops (@247HSHoops) April 15, 2023
Bates averaged 6.1PPG in 35 games for the Hoosiers this season. Started two games and shot 37% from 3pt range.
A big pickup for Missouri. Former 4⭐️ recruit. pic.twitter.com/tKy4Yhk7NU
Missouri picks up the former four-star #iubb guard in Tamar Bates and the five-star baby racer in Leilani.— Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) April 15, 2023
Bates is from Kansas City, so no surprise here to see him go closer to home. https://t.co/56ypHJQHMn