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A Familiar Face Returns to FSU Basketball

Dennis Gates, a graduate assistant at FSU while Al Thornton was here, has returned to the Seminole program as a replacement for Andy Enfield. After Enfield moved on to his head coaching position at Florida Gulf Coast I predicted that the new coach would be four things - young, black, ties to the NBA, and ties to coach Leonard Hamilton - and Gates (31) fits on all four accounts.

Gates played college basketball at UC Berkeley (Cal), coming out of the Chicago high school system as a highly ranked guard who never found his place in the college game, at least on the floor. He was still a team leader though, and as a sign of this he was named the co-captain of the team for his sophomore through senior seasons, and he earned the highest academic award available in the conference - the Pac 10 Medal of Honor.

Following graduation he worked in the player-development segment of the LA Clippers organization, and then as a GA, 1st at Marquette and then at Florida State. Following his Master's degree from FSU he worked as a full-time assistant at Cal, Northern Illinois, and Nevada.

Ideally, assistants on the college basketball level come into the program for 3-5 years, and then leave as head coaches. Gates fits this career trajectory. His job at FSU will be what typical assistants do, which is to mimic the head coach during practice when players are broken into skill groups, to scout opponents, and most importantly, to recruit. It's this last component that makes Gates an interesting hire. He both played high school basketball in Chicago, and coached at Northern Illinois. As an assistant at Cal he recruited Jerome Randle from Chicago, who just happened to finish his career as Cal's all-time leading scorer. Florida State is currently recruiting several Chicago area players, including Billy Garrett Jr., one of the top sophomore PG's in the country.