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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cincinnati F Yancy Gates 06.12.12 at 5:21 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

Yancy Gates showed some potential but had some maturity issues at Cincinnati. (AP)

YANCY GATES

Position: Power forward/center

School: Cincinnati

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 287 pounds

Achievements: Only player in school history to lead team in rebounding for four consecutive seasons, Big East All-Tournament team (2012), Big East All-Rookie team (2009)

Key 2011-12 stats: 12.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 32.0 minutes

What he brings: Gates is a bruiser down low, and he proved to be one of the better rebounders in the Big East and the country. He noticeably improved his offensive rebounding ability, as he grabbed 3.2 per game last season. His combination of strength, size and good hands make him a valuable asset underneath the basket.

Gates possesses a solid post presence and has good footwork and an array of moves for a big man, but he’ll need to improve his shooting percentage at the next level. Offensively, Gates is a one-dimensional player who plays mostly under the basket. He only made 31 percent of his jump shots this season, according to Synergy, and he’ll have to work on jump shooting mechanics if he wants to develop into a capable shooter in the NBA.

Defensively, Gates is mobile and is able to deny his man and force him into difficult shots. For his size, he does a good job of fronting and contesting shots, which is clear from the fact that his foul rate improved each season at Cincinnati.

Gates’ rebounding ability would be a welcome sight for a Celtics team that ranked last in the NBA in that category in 2011-12. The C’s frontcourt was thin all season long, and with Kevin Garnett approaching the end of his career, a rebounding big man of Gates’ caliber will be sorely needed in the years to come.

Where the Celtics could get him: Gates is considered a second-round possibility who might not get drafted at all.

Notes: The character of Gates will be an area that will be heavily criticized leading up to the draft. In December, he was suspended six games for throwing punches in a bench-clearing brawl against rival Xavier, and he also was suspended in 2011 for mouthing off to an assistant during practice. In both instances, Gates returned and delivered strong late-season performances for the Bearcats, but his character undoubtedly will be monitored at the next level.

Recent articles:

Rivals.com: For Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, suspension was a turning point

CBS New York: Cincinnati’s Gates Comes Of Age In Victory

Rivals.com: Yancy Gates’ career at Cincinnati has had its ups and downs, but he’s finishing strong

Video: Here’s a highlight reel of Gates during his first two seasons at Cincinnati.

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Why Celtics fans should pay close attention to Cincy’s Yancy Gates 03.22.12 at 10:51 am ET
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Size, power and quickness. Toughness, fearlessness and the ability to rebound.

All of those are qualities the Celtics could use. It’s a commodity they’ve been desperately seeking since Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal were lost for the season.

The Celtics won’t be in the lottery this season so scouts like Ryan McDonough will be searching long and hard in the college and amateur ranks for someone who might fall through the cracks and be available in the NBA Draft this June.

Meet Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates.

At 6-9, 260 pounds, he’s certainly powerful. He can rebound, currently ranked ninth all-time on Cincinnati’s all-time rebound list with 911. He is one of only six players in the school’s illustrious history with at least 1,400 points and 900 rebounds.

He’s a senior who’s been through the wars.

Oh yeah, about that last line. Arguably the ugliest moment in Cincinnati’s basketball history came on Dec. 10 at the Cintas Center against the archrival Xavier Musketeers.

With just 9.4 seconds remaining in a 23-point loss, Gates was in the middle of college basketball’s ugliest chapter of the season. He threw a right cross that landed flush on the left eye brow of Xavier big man Kenny Frease. It opened a gash and dropped him to the ground. Frease was then stomped on by Cheikh Mbodj and blood started flowing from above Frease’s eye.

To his credit, he served a six-game suspension handed down by the school and expressed remorse. It was a complete loss of self-control and judgment. But in saying that, he has showed something else in the following three months – competitive fire.

While inconsistent at times, Gates has been the backbone of the interior game for the Bearcats, rebounding and playing defense, as coach Mick Cronin directed the team not to rely on his offense but the other things he brings to the table, like nine rebounds a game in the Big East, still considered the toughest in college basketball.

“Defense and rebounding,” Cronin said Wednesday. “We lost Ibrahima Thomas and Yancy really had to change his basketball personality from an offensive player to an all-around player. He needed to be our defensive anchor this year because we’re small in the other areas. It took him time. When he came back [from suspension] he realized here’s what I have to do to help this team win – I have to be an anchor on defense.

“These guys are scoring, they’re running around, hitting shots, beating their man off the dribble. ‘I have to finish plays around the rim, fit in and give these guys an anchor inside.’ And he’s done that. Maybe I should’ve been using him more in that capacity. So, sometimes as a coach, you stumble on to some things.”

With his presence in the middle, he led the team to road wins over Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Connecticut and home wins over Louisville and Marquette. Then, in the Big East, the Bearcats did it again to Georgetown and sent No. 2 Syracuse packing before their offense was a no-show against Louisville in the Big East championship.

Fast-forward to the tournament, they handled Texas and eliminated No. 10 Florida State, the team that beat North Carolina in the ACC title game.

This is a Bearcats team tournament-tested, and ready to take on Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes. This is a great chance for NBA scouts to see how Gates does against a big-man who projects as a potential lottery pick. And the Celtics will be watching Gates very closely. You can count on it.

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