COLUMBIA, Mo–A little more than a week after firing Cuonzo Martin, Mizzou introduced its new basketball coach Tuesday.
New Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois picking a long time assistant who’s proven he can rebuild a program.
The University of Missouri introduced Dennis Gates as its 20th head basketball coach.
The 42-year old made no bones about what he wants to accomplish at Mizzou.
“My dream is to become a national champion. My dream is to be a hall of fame head coach,” said Gates.
Gates is from Chicago and Mizzou icon Norm Stewart recruited him out of high school.
“He recruited me. At that point the seeds of how special Missouri at that time was planted,” said Gates.
Gates played his college ball at Cal-Berkley and then was a long-time assistant under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State.
Gates:”My mentors have prepared me for this moment. Leonard Hamilton often moved to the side and allowed me to lead in moments that prepared me. And gave me the confidence to be here.”
After 17 years as a D-1 assistant, gates took over a Cleveland State program that was on the rocks.
In three years, gates won 50 games and was named the Horizon coach of the year twice and took the Vikings to the NCAA tournament.
“I watched him as an assistant at Florida State when I was in the ACC. And later as a two-time coach of the year who completely transformed a program at Cleveland State. It became apparent why coach Gates was so sought after,” said Reed-Francois.
Mizzou paid $600,000 dollars to Cleveland State to buy you the remaining five years of his contract there.
Terms of his Mizzou deal were not released.
Now Dennis Gates’ job is to get Mizzou back to the NCAA tournament, and rise to the top of the SEC.
A task he’s not shying away from.
“I know the business and profession that I’m in. I realize that. I am not running from it. I’m here to tussle with you,” said Gates.
He inherits a Tiger team that was 12-21 and won five conference games.
Ten of the 11-man roster are underclassmen, so there’s room for mold the roster before the winter.
He had this message for his Tigers.
You may not have chose me, but I choose you. This is the right time for me to be here. And that’s why I know I can trust my dream of being an hall of fame coach. That’s why I can trust my dream of winning a national championship here with Mizzou. But also Mizzou can trust me,” said Gates.