The Cincinnati Bearcats play their final home tonight. The team has 2 seniors who will be going through the senior day festivities. One of them is Yancy Gates. Gates came to UC in the class of 2008. He attended Withrow High School in town. He was highly regarded as the 22nd ranked player in the nation by Rivals. Getting Gates to stay in town was a gigantic get for Mick Cronin. He said multiple times that he wanted to build the Cincinnati program to the heights that it reached in the mid-90s and early 2000s.
Yancy Gates played 23 minutes a game his freshman season, topping out at 37 in an overtime game against Seton Hall. He averaged 10.6 points on 48% shooting. He was 145-303. Gates used 24.5% of the UC possessions with a 103.1 offensive rating. He was a poor foul shooter, 58%. He was 48-82. He was 2nd in the nation by getting 84.9% of his points from 2. Gates averaged 6.1 rebounds. He was very good offensive rebounding, 10th in the Big East with 3.3 a game. He got 13.5% of them, which ranked 3rd in the league. Yancy had 14 assists. He got 15 steals. Blocked 32 shots, which was 16th in the league. Gates turned the ball over 41 times, which was not really that much.
His sophomore year, Gates played 25 minutes per game. He scored 10.3 a game on 52.2% shooting. He was 155-297. He used 21.2% of the UC possessions with a 107.3 offensive rating. The field goal percentage is still a career high. He didn’t improve much at the line going 53-90, 59%. Gates had a drop in rebounding as well as his scoring, getting 5.9 boards a game. He was still good offensively, 11th in the BE in off-rebs, 88, per game, 2.5 and percent, 10.9%. He passed the ball better, 30 assists. Gates had 20 steals. He blocked 30 shots. He turned the ball over 48 times. There wasn’t much improvement from his freshman year, which was disappointing.
Gates made the jump last year. He picked up his minutes to 28. He averaged 11.9 points. He hit on 51%, 8th in the BE. He was 162-317. He was 4-14 from 3. Yancy hasn’t attempted 14 3s his other 3 seasons combined. He became a slightly worse foul shooter, 58%, while getting to the line a career best 133 times. He made 77. Yancy used 22.7% of the UC possessions with a career best 109.4 offensive rating. Gates picked up the rebounding by a full board a game to 6.9. He became one of the best defensive rebounders in the league. He finished with 162, 7th, 4.8 a game, 8th, and got 21.2%, 4th. He set a career high with 42 assists. Gates got a career high 27 steals. He blocked a career high 43 shots, which was 14th in the league. He cut the turnovers. He had a very solid junior season. That put hopes on him for this year.
This season Yancy Gates has played 32 minutes a game. He’s averaging 11.9 points, same as last year almost exactly. He’s been worse from the field. He’s at 47%, his career low, 114-244. He is using 21.1% of the UC possessions with a 106 offensive rating. He has had the best rebounding season of his career with 9.3 a game. That’s 3rd in the league, 38th in the nation. He’s 6th in the BE and 33rd in the country with 3.3 offensive boards a game, and 4th in the league with 6 defensive boards a game. He’s had a big drop off in assists down to 17. He’s regressed in steals to 14. He’s really not blocking shots at all, a career low 23 with a career low 3.2 block pct. He’s turned the ball over 26 times.
Gates started his career the right way. In 20 minutes against South Dakota, Gates scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting, had 11 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. On November 29 against UNLV, Gates helped power a UC win with 16 on 7-10 and 7 boards. He would have a couple of ok games, only playing 18 minutes in the Crosstown Shootout with 2 points, before going off for 18-7 on Charleston Southern. That was followed with 12-9, 17-8, and 14-8-2 blocks before up and down play and up and down minutes. With the schedule picking up, Gates’ play went down. He had a couple of decent rebounding games, but rode a 6 game stretch of being a freshman. Gates took 17 shots to get 14 points with 7 boards and a season high 3 assists against Providence. That was followed with 11 against St John’s and a pair of 9 point games. He did have 4 blocks against Georgetown in a win. Yancy kept it going with 15-8, 11-7 and 21-6 on 8-11 shooting against Seton Hall. He had a couple of rough games in UC losses before going off for a season high 22 on 9-11 shooting with 11 rebounds against West Virginia. That included him icing the game at the foul line. Outside of a 14-7 game against South Florida, Gates struggled the last 4. UC also struggled the last 4, losing them all and missing any kind of postseason tournament.
Yancy had a dominating stretch to kick off his sophomore season. He had 10 rebounds in the opener followed by 14 in the next game. Gates posted back to back double doubles for the first time in his career, getting 16-10 and 17-13 in the first 2 games of the Maui Invitational. The 13 boards were a then career high. He had 11-7 against Gonzaga in the title game loss. After a low key game against Miami, Gates scored 18 on 8-16 shooting with 6 rebounds in the double OT loss to Xavier. He had 16-7 against Winthrop to round out exhibition play. He started Big East play slowly with 6-3 against UConn. He got on a little hot streak though, getting 10-8 against Rutgers, 16-14-4 blocks against Pitt and 14 in a loss to Seton Hall. The 14 boards still are a career best mark. After a 11-13 game in a win over Notre Dame, Gates hit a bit of a funk. He had 8 against USF, 12 against Louisville, 7 against PC, 10 in the ND rematch, 10 against Syracuse. And those were the good games. He was a complete non-factor in a win over UConn and a loss at South Florida. Gates bounced back with a vengeance though. He scored 14 against Marquette and had 23 on 11-15 and 8 boards, his highest total since the first ND game over a month before. Gates ended the season on a bit of a whimper. He had 10 against WVU, but 0 rebounds. He scored 13 against Nova on 7-7 foul shooting, which I’m going to assume is his best career mark. He failed to crack double digits in a humiliating loss at Georgetown to close the regular season. Yancy showed signs of life in the Big East tournament. He had 10 against Rutgers, 16 against Louisville and 11-7 in the heartbreaker vs WVU. He was a zero in the NIT however, 8 points against Weber St and 2 on 1-5 shooting against Dayton.
Gates stated his juinor year with 15-10 over Mount St Mary’s. He followed that up with solid 13-7, 11-11-4 blocks and 12-9. He played just 13 minutes against Dayton, but came back with a solid 10-7-3 block game against Wright St. Gates was kind of average 8-4, 14-3, 12-6, 11-7, 8-8, until he had 18-6-4 steals-3 assists against St Francis. He kept it going with 15-6-2 blocks-2 steals in the Big East opener vs DePaul. He didn’t do much against Seton Hall before he had the game of his career. Gates scored 22 points on 10-16 shooting, throwing in shots from everywhere on the court, with 14 rebounds and 2 blocks against Xavier in a 20 point blowout. It was the crowning moment of his career. He couldn’t match the high after that though. He had 11-9 in the first loss against Nova, then 9-3, 3-3, 13-5, 13-8, capping with a 11-12 double double against Rutgers. The 13-8 game took place against St John’s, where Gates made the game winning shot in a 53-51 win. Gates played 26 minutes with 7 points and 5 boards against West Virginia. Gates would be suspended before the next game at Pittsburgh. He came back for the next game against DePaul. He managed 16 minutes with 5 points and 3 boards before fouling out and throwing a peace sign at the big screen. He was booed in the next Bearcat home game against St John’s and played 1 minute the second half. He was clearly angry about not getting put back in the game, yelling at Mick Cronin on the bench. Gates must have realized his was pissing his career away because he came on strong. He had 8-6 in a big win over Louisville, 21-8 in a win at Providence, 17-11 in a monster win at Georgetown, 14-8 in a loss vs UConn, and 13-5 in the senior day romp against the Hoyas. It was an impressive way to close the regular season. Gates brought it even harder in the Big East tournament. He had 25 on 10-11 shooting against USF and 12-9 in a game no one played well against Notre Dame. Yancy Gates filled his promise of making the NCAA tournament and he had a memorable game to start. He put up 18 on 7-8 with 11 rebounds against Missouri. In the UConn loss, Gates had 11-6. Expectations were very high for him coming into his senior year.
For the third time in his career, Gates started the season with a double double. He put up 15-11 against Alabama St. He had a 9 board game against Jacksonville St before going off the next 4 games. Yancy had 17-8 in the Presbyterian loss, 18-11, 17-7 and 10-10. He had an off game against Georgia, 5-8, before being much of the offense in a blowout against Xavier, 18-12. Of course at the end of that game, Yancy punched Kenny Frease square in the face. He was suspended 6 games. He came back as a bench player, getting 6-8 and 10-7 his first 2 games back. He started against Georgetown, playing well in a win. He had a couple of other decent games but would bring the noise hard the next 5. He had 16-9, 13-12, 10-13, 16-10 and 16-8. Gates had a pedestrian 11-6 against DePaul before getting right back into big numbers with 14-9, 11-12, and 16-9. He put up a double double against Louisville and had 10 boards against USF. That brings us to now.
Ultimately I believe the final games of this regular season are going to tell us the story of Yancy Gates. If UC makes the NCAA tournament, he’ll be the corner stone of team that made the NCAA tournament 2 years in a row and got Cincinnati basketball back on the map. If the Bearcats make a run in March, Gates could be remembered as one of the men who helped turn around the program. There could be memorable Bearcats posts about him in 10 years. A positive March turns the Yancy Gates story into one with a good ending.
Unfortunately if it ended today, I don’t think the story ends that well. The punch heard round the world is the scarlet letter Yancy Gates is going to have to wear the rest of his life. He’s going to be asked about it in the NBA draft discussion. It’s going to be brought up next year, if there even is a game next year. Gates overcame the label of a lazy malcontent by dominating the last month of the season. The suspension before the Pitt game was old news and a “look at what he came back from,” story. We live in a world where people are known for their failures. Art Long is a punchline. Charles Williams lives in infamy. Kermit Washington was the 5th pick in the NBA draft. Do you remember anything about his playing days? Fair or unfair, Gates is going to wear the letter.
He’s the puncher. He’s one of the best scorers in UC history and is going to be at least 15th in UC history. He’s the first Bearcat to lead his team in rebounding 4 straight years since 1978. He’s one of 6 in the 1,400 point/850 rebound club. His story is complex. His career has been a long journey. Hopefully it ends in a final redemption.