(updated August 2018)
Dennis Gates, whose tenure as an assistant coach at Florida State mirrors the Seminoles’ rise to national prominence, is in his eighth season on Head Coach Leonard Hamilton’s staff. With Gates on the staff, the Seminoles have played in three NCAA Tournaments, advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, established themselves as the third-winningest program in the ACC in the last 13 years (since the 2005-06 season) in total wins (284) and have become one of the nation’s top producers of NBA talent. Florida State is recruiting at a level never before seen in Tallahassee and Gates’ tireless efforts as a national and worldwide recruiter have helped the Seminoles recruit the nation’s top talent to Tallahassee.
The Seminoles are looking to make their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018-19, advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993, won the 2012 ACC Championship for the first time in school history and had five players in the NBA during the 2017-18 season. With three NBA Draft picks in the last three seasons – including one lottery pick – Gates has helped revitalize the Seminoles’ pipeline to the NBA.
Gates’ ability to recruit star basketball players since joining Hamilton’s staff in 2011 is evident when one scans Florida State’s current and recent rosters. The players who have helped the Seminoles reach the postseason and who make up their 2018-19 roster ranked in the nation’s top-100 players when they were recruited including 2017 NBA Lottery pick Jonathan Isaac (No. 9), 2017 NBA Draft choice Dwayne Bacon, (No. 22), NBA free-agent signee Xavier Rathan-Mayes (No. 24), sophomore M.J. Walker (No. 24), junior Trent Forrest (No. 45), senior Phil Cofer (No. 56) and senior Terance Mann (No. 94).
Gates connects with players and families like very few college basketball coaches can. It’s his ability to connect with a recruit and then help them reach the next level of basketball during their collegiate careers that makes Gates so incredibly successful.
Gates was an integral member of the Seminoles’ coaching staff in 2012 when the Seminoles won their first ACC Championship in school history, played in the NCAA Tournament for the school-record fourth time (also in 2012), finished the season ranked in the top-15 by the major polls, defeated an ACC-best six ranked teams, tied the school record for ACC wins with a 12-4 mark in ACC play, beat Duke and North Carolina twice each for the first time in school history, beat all four Tobacco Road teams in the same season for the first time and finished in the top-10 in the NCAA statistics in both field goal percentage defense and blocked shots.
One of the sharpest minds in college basketball, Gates was hired as a graduate assistant at Florida State in 2005. After stops at Marquette, Cal, and in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers, he coached at Northern Illinois in 2008 and was elevated to the position of associate head coach after just one season with the Huskies. At only 28 years of age, he was one of the youngest associate head coaches in all of college basketball. He was Northern Illinois’ lead recruiter, coached the Huskie guards and helped numerous players earn All-Mid-American Conference and MAC All-Freshman honors during his two years there.
OUTSTANDING RECRUITING SUCCESS
Gates was instrumental in bringing in four consecutive top-15 ranked recruiting classes full of talent to Florida State and works daily to ensure that effort continues. In the last four recruiting cycles, Gates has helped recruit 11 players who were rated four- or five-star recruits including McDonald’s All-American M.J. Walker (a sophomore on the Seminoles’ 2018-19 team), Jordan-Brand All-American Jonathan Isaac (the No. 6 overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft) and McDonald’s All-American Dwayne Bacon (the No. 40 overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft). He has helped assemble top-ranked recruiting classes at each of his four coaching stops — Florida State, Cal, Nevada and Northern Illinois. The many players he has had a hand in recruiting have become the cornerstones of their respective programs and future NBA and professional players. His 2006 class at Cal included four top-150 recruits; Taylor Harrison, All Pac-10 guards Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle, and All Pac-10 power forward and 2008 NBA first-round draft pick Ryan Anderson. Anderson is currently a member of the Houston Rockets. Following the 2006-07 season, Anderson was selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Malik Beasley, a freshman on Florida State’s 2015-16 roster, was a first round selection of the Denver Nuggets in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was the first one-and-done player in Florida State history and is in his third season with the Denver Nuggets.
GATES’ SUCCESS WITH FLORIDA STATE’S GUARDS
Gates, who excelled as a combo guard during his playing career, has mentored the Seminoles’ guards during his career in Tallahassee. He has worked with Luke Loucks (who set an ACC Tournament championship game record with 13 assists in the Seminoles’ 2012 ACC Championship clinching victory over North Carolina), Ian Miller (who was named as the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2014), Devon Bookert (one of the greatest shooters in school history), Xavier Rathan-Mayes (who earned All-ACC Freshman and All-ACC Honorable Mention honors in 2015 and All-ACC Defensive Team honors in 2017) and Malik Beasley (who was a first round NBA selection in 2016). His work with Braian Angola helped the guard go from a junior college All-American, to a Division I standout at Florida State, to the NBA. After a stellar season in the NBA Summer League in 2018, Angola signed a contract with the Magic that brought him to the Magic training camp with the opportunity to make the NBA team or play for the Magic’s G-League affiliate in Lakeland, Fla.
Gates helped coach the Seminoles to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 2018 – the sixth Florida State team in his seven seasons to have played in the postseason. The Seminoles’ appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament marked the third time in program history and first time since 1993 they played in a regional final game. Gates has helped coach the Seminoles into the NCAA Tournament in 2012, 2017 and 2018 and into the NIT in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The Seminoles tied the school record as they earned a No. 3 seed and advanced to the second round of the tournament in 2017. Gates helped the Seminoles reach the semifinals of the NIT in 2014 in New York’s fame Madison Square Garden to mark only the second time in school history they had advanced to the Final Four of the NIT. He also helped coach Cal into the 2006 NCAA Tournament and Nevada into the 2010 NIT. As a player, Gates was a three-year team captain (and four-year varsity letterwinner) at Cal and led the Bears to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2001 and 2002, the 1999 NIT title and the 2000 NIT Final Eight.
SEMINOLES IN THE 2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT
Florida State advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2018 NCAA Tournament with Gates on the sidelines for only the third time in school history. The Seminoles finished with a 23-12 record, a 9-9 mark in ACC play, won the Jamaica Classic and played in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and for the sixth time in the last 10 years. Florida State was one of two ACC teams which advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, defeated a near school-record six nationally ranked teams and three teams seeded higher than them in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
In his first season as an assistant coach at Cal, the Golden Bears saw their win total increase from 13 (2004-05) to 20 (2005-06). In his first season as an assistant at Florida State, the Seminoles saw their win total increase from 23 (2010-11) to 25 (2011-12).
Gates began his career as a coaching assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers as a skill development coach during the 2002-03 season. He worked with a strong collection of players that included 10 prospects with three or fewer years of experience, including future All-Stars Elton Brand and Lamar Odom. Brand finished the 2003 season as the Clippers’ leading scorer with an 18.5 points per game average while Odom ranked third on the team with a 14.6 points per game average. Brand and Odom formed one of the NBA’s highest scoring and best shooting front court duos in the NBA with Gates on the Clippers’ staff. The Clippers finished in the top-10 in the NBA statistics for blocked shots, free throws made and free throws attempted.
PREPARING PLAYERS TO REACH THE NBA
Gates recruited, coached and oversaw the development of 2017 NBA Draft Lottery pick Jonathan Isaac – the No. 6 overall selection by the Orlando Magic. It marked the second consecutive season Gates had recruited and coached a first round NBA draft pick. Malik Beasley was selected as the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 3.8 points in his first season in the NBA. In addition to working with Beasley and Isaac (who were both named to the All-ACC Freshman team), Gates also worked with Bernard James (second round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012 / played three years with the Dallas Mavericks), worked with power forward Leon Powe at Cal (second round pick of the Denver Nuggets in 2006), as well as Travis Diener (second round pick of the Orlando Magic in 2005) and Steve Novak (second round pick of the Houston Rockets in 2006) at Marquette. Gates worked with two NBA players during his coaching tenure at Nevada: Armon Johnson was a second round draft choice of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010 and has played for the Trail Blazers and the New Jersey Nets while Luke Babbitt was the No. 16 overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Babbitt currently plays for the Miami Heat. Gates also coached Okaro White during his Florida State career. White most recently played with the Heat and the Cavaliers during the 2018 season.
In each of his stops as an assistant coach, Gates has played a significant role in helping his teams improve statistically. Northern Illinois finished his second season (2008-09) ranked among the top-five in six different statistical categories in the Mid-American Conference including third in scoring (66.2 ppg), third in three-point field goal percentage (34.7) and fourth in assists (12.4 apg). All were significant improvements from the 2007-08 campaign. The 2008-09 season saw the Huskies go 7-5 at home, their first winning record since the 2005-06 season. Overall, Northern Illinois improved its win total by four wins in Gates first season as the Huskies associate head coach. During his second season at Nevada, the Wolf Pack finished third in the league statistics in rebounding (36.8 rpg), fourth in blocked shots (3.7 bpg) and fourth in field goal percentage defense (.426). The Wolf Pack also ranked in the top-15 in the nation in scoring and field goal percentage, and broke school single-season marks for scoring and field goals made and attempted in 2010. In his two seasons as an assistant coach at Cal, the Bears averaged 18 wins a season and won 20 games in advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Florida State won 65 games in Gates’ first three seasons under Hamilton – an average of 21.7 wins per season. In his first season at Florida State, he helped Florida State continue to stand as one of the nation’s top defensive teams. Florida State finished fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense and seventh in blocked shots in 2012. The Seminoles defeated an ACC-high six ranked teams and defeated all four Tobacco Road teams in the ACC (Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest) in the same season for the first time in school history. In his second season, the Seminoles led the ACC in blocked shots and finished second in free throw shooting percentage. It marked the school-record fourth consecutive season the Seminoles had led the ACC in blocked shots while their second place finish in the team statistics in free throw percentage shooting marked an improvement of 10 positions in the league statistics. The Seminoles led the ACC in field goal shooting percentage in 2014 – the first time in school history they led the ACC in that category since joining the ACC for the 1992 season. Florida State has increased its scoring output under Gates, as it averages 81.0 points scored per game in the last two seasons.
SECOND TIME AROUND
Gates was a graduate assistant at Florida State under Hamilton during the 2004-05 season – a year the foundation for the current Seminole program began to take shape. The Seminoles counted a victory over No. 3 Wake Forest in their win total. Gates played a part in the development of future pros Al Thornton, Alexander Johnson and Von Wafer during his first season in Tallahassee with Thornton becoming only the second NBA Draft Lottery selection in Florida State history in 2007. Johnson and Wafer were second round NBA Draft selections.
Gates has learned the game from some of basketball’s all-time greatest coaches including Hamilton who is one of the top-10 all-time winningest coaches in ACC history. He played and coached under Ben Braun at Cal (a finalist for the 2003 Naismith National Coach of the Year award), Tom Crean at Marquette (the 2012 National Coach of the Year by ESPN.com), Ricardo Patton at Northern Illinois and David Carter at Nevada. Braun took eight teams to the NCAA Tournament while Crean has guided eight teams to the NCAA Tournament including his 2003 Marquette team which advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Crean led Indiana to the 2013 Big Ten Championship and led the Hoosiers to an incredible 10 weeks at the No. 1 ranking during the 2012-13 season and is currently the Head Coach at Georgia. Gates also worked under Alvin Gentry (current head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans) and the late Dennis Johnson while he was a coaching assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers.
During his playing career at Cal, the Golden Bears compiled an 83-46 record, winning 20 games in a season three times. In 2002, the Bears reached the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Gates was named to the All-Tournament team at the Golden Bear Classic in 2001 after hitting a three-pointer to beat Penn State, 76-73, in the closing seconds of the championship game. He played in 114 career games, started 34 games and finished his career with a scoring average of 3.8 points per game as well as 100 steals and 148 assists.
Gates was a two-time Pac-10 First Team All-Academic Team selection, was named Cal’s Most Inspirational Player (2001) and was twice named the Bears’ Outstanding Student-Athlete (1999 and 2001). In addition, he was awarded the 2002 Pac-10 Medal of Honor (given to the Pac-10 Universities Top Graduating Student-Athlete).
COACHING IS A FAMILY AFFAIR
Gates’ younger brother, Armon, is in his first season as a member of Tim Miles’ staff at Nebraska in 2019. He was an assistant at Northwestern (2013-18 at Northwestern) and was a driving force in the Wildcats’ first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2017. Armon has coached at Loyola of Chicago (two seasons, 2012-13), TCU (2011), Kent State (two seasons, 2009-10) and was a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky as he helped the Hilltoppers advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2008. As a player, Armon led Kent State to an 88-42 overall record and three postseason appearances.
Gates earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal in just three years and played as a master’s degree candidate in education during his senior campaign. He earned his Master of Science degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Florida State University in 2005.
Assistant Coaching Record
|2003-04||Marquette||19-12||8-8 CUSA||NIT Quarterfinals|
|2004-05||Florida State||12-19||4-12 ACC||Defeated No. 3 Wake Forest|
|2005-06||Cal||20-11||12-6 PAC-10||NCAA 1st Round|
|2006-07||Cal||16-17||6-12 PAC-10||Defeated No. 4 ranked UCLA; No. 15 ranked Oregon|
|2007-08||Northern Illinois||6-22||3-12 MAC||Coached MAC Freshman of the Year|
|2008-09||Northern Illinois||10-20||5-11 MAC||Coached two All-MAC selections|
|2009-10||Nevada||21-13||11-5 WAC||NIT 1st Round|
|2010-11||Nevada||13-19||8-8 WAC||Coached WAC Freshman of the Year|
|2011-12||Florida State||25-10||12-4 ACC||NCAA East Regional 3rd Round, ACC Champions|
|2012-13||Florida State||18-16||9-9 ACC||NIT 1st Round|
|2013-14||Florida State||22-14||9-9 ACC||NIT Semifinals|
|2014-15||Florida State||17-16||8-10 ACC||Defeated No. 23 Miami (Fla.)|
|2015-16||Florida State||20-14||8-10 ACC||NIT 2nd Round|
|2016-17||Florida State||26-9||12-6 ACC||NCAA West Regional 2nd Round; ACC 2nd Place|
|2017-18||Florida State||23-12||9-9 ACC||NCAA West Regional Finals|