Cincinnati senior Yancy Gates
had quite an eventful senior year, rebounding from the nasty brawl and six-game suspension to lead the Bearcats to the Sweet Sixteen. Though he disappeared down the stretch in a loss to Ohio State, he showed enough throughout the season to plant himself back on the NBA radar. Now, as his time at Cincinnati is over, scouts must decide whether his legitimate talent and potential trumps the long list of red flags that he has built up throughout his career.
At 6'9, with an excellent 7'3 wingspan and a massive 260-pound frame, Gates possesses good size for an NBA big man. He is solid athlete, as well, explosive around the basket, though probably more mobile than he is quick. Despite his good physical profile, improving his conditioning would do wonders for both his physique and athleticism, not to mention his standing with NBA teams.
On offense, Gates is more or less the same player that we profiled at the beginning of his senior season, displaying a combination of post play with some spot-up shooting and face-up potential. That being said, it's worth noting that Gates's 15.7 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted on just 46% from the field were both career lows this season.
In the post, Gates still lacks much of a post game, relying more upon brute strength than polished footwork. He still has a nice jump hook in his repertoire and can surprise his man with a quick spin on the baseline, but he is not consistently aggressive and rarely uses his size to his advantage at this level. Another issue is that Gates does not consistently post up, however, preferring to pull up or fade away than take his man to the basket.
His often inconsistent or uninspired aggressiveness and focus is a significant reason why he struggles to get to the foul line and why shoots such a low percentage from inside of the arc, as he rarely puts himself in position for easy baskets. When he's dialed in he's an asset in the post, carving out space and using his strength and athleticism to get to the basket, but you never quite know what to expect from Gates, as his performances fluctuate greatly depending on what day you catch him on.
Gates also sees his fair share of offense away from the basket, where he finds over 25% of his field goal attempts. Unfortunately, Gates is still not a great shooter, making just 31% of his jump shots according to Synergy without the shot selection or free throw percentage to suggest he is a better shooter than meets the eye. His release does not look bad, but he tends to fade away when he shoots, even with his feet set. Needless to say, he must work on his mechanics and decision making quite a bit before proving to scouts that he is a capable jump shooter.
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.
Gates is a solid defender, as well, showing very good lateral quickness for his size with the ability to stay in front of his man inside and outside. In the post, he does not make much of an effort to deny his man the ball, but he does an excellent job of standing his ground and forcing his man into tough shots. As is the case elsewhere in his game, focus can be an issue here and staying in his stance would help him significantly, but he should not be a liability guarding power forwards at the next level. He has proven to be a good rebounder, as well,grabbing a career-high 11.5 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted
Nevertheless, Yancy Gates
is a difficult player to project at the next level. On one hand, he has an excellent physical profile with an interesting skill set and significant potential. On the other hand, he has a myriad of red flags, from the Xavier brawl to his shoddy conditioning, his multiple suspensions to his inconsistent effort. Gates certainly has the talent to get drafted and could have a lot of value to a team if he's able to overcome the issues that have plagued him throughout his career. In the meantime, Gates must do everything in his power to prove that his past his behind him while showing greater effort on both ends of the floor.