Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles announced the hiring of Armon Gates as an assistant coach on Monday.
“I’m really excited about Armon and what he brings to the table,” Miles told the media. “He’s a great guy. He’s a guy I’ve known for a long time. High energy, very good with the players, an excellent recruiter, especially in the middle of Big Ten territory.”
Gates, a native of Chicago, returns to the Big Ten after recently serving as associate head coach at the University of Florida under Mike White.
Gates has coached and developed all-conference performers at three schools during his coaching career.
“I really enjoyed my brief time at Florida,” Gates said. “Coach Mike White and his staff are tremendous people and great friends. Last week, I consulted Coach White about approaching Tim Miles regarding the Nebraska coaching position. After visiting Lincoln and the campus, it became clear to me Nebraska was a great fit. I’m greatly appreciative of Florida and Coach White for the opportunity be part of Gator Nation. I am really looking forward to a new beginning at Nebraska.”
Gates mentioned that the feeling was right when he first approached Coach Miles about the open assistant position. That feeling stuck with him, even though he had just accepted a new job at Florida.
“Coach Miles, he rubbed off on me in a very positive way when I met with him the first couple of times just to talk about Nebraska,” Gates said. “That never left. Just reminds me of myself energy-wise. He loves to laugh and have fun, and I feel that’s very important.”
Miles and Gates had met before the assistant job at Nebraska came open. Even then, Miles could tell that Gates had all of the qualities of a solid coach.
“I have known Armon for several years and spent quality time with him,” Miles said. “What immediately becomes clear about him is his positivity and high energy. He will be a good role model for our players. He will be an excellent teacher of the game and will do a phenomenal job recruiting, as he’s proven over the years at Northwestern, Kent State, and Loyola-Chicago. We are really happy to add Armon and his family to Husker Nation.”
Gates replaces Kenya Hunter, who announced he was leaving Nebraska for an assistant role at UConn on April 9. Gates had accepted his role at Florida on April 8.
“(Armon) is one of those guys that always has options, because he’s so good,” Miles said. “There’s several schools that have acquired about him over the last how many years. With these circumstances and with his family, I know that he thinks he can build himself into a better version of himself and build on what we’ve been doing.”
For the past five seasons (2013-18), Gates was at Northwestern under Chris Collins, helping the Wildcats to a pair of 20-win seasons, including the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017.
One of Gates’ known strengths is recruiting. He helped bring a top-30 recruiting class to Northwestern in 2014, while the most recent class in 2018 was ranked as the 24th best in the country on 247Sports.
“I want to (recruit) as a staff,” Gates said. “It’s called a staff for a reason. It’s a team sport, so we try to treat this thing as a whole.”
Gates feels that Nebraska is about to reach its full potential as a program, and he’s confident that he can help lead the Huskers to that crucial next step – much like he did with the Wildcats a little more than a year ago.
“I just feel like the ceiling is ready to blow off,” Gates said. “To be honest with you, what Coach Miles and his staff here have done, it’s tremendous. You can have a very good year, and come back the following year and go down the drain. But, I have so much confidence in (Miles) and (assistant Michael Lewis). Again, I just feel like this is a great spot for me.”
Prior to coaching at Northwestern, Gates spent two seasons at Loyola Chicago (2011-13) after spending the 2010-11 season as an assistant at TCU.
Prior to his season at TCU, Gates spent two seasons (2008-10) as an assistant coach at Kent State, helping the Golden Flashes to the 2009-10 Mid-American Conference regular-season title. In his final year at Kent State, Gates was part of a staff that guided the Golden Flashes to the second round of the NIT.
Gates began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky. In his lone season with the Hilltoppers, the team recorded a 29-7 overall record and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
During his playing days at Kent State, Gates helped the Golden Flashes to an 88-42 record and three postseason appearances. Kent State recorded four straight 20-win seasons during his time on campus, and he closed out his career tied for second in school history with 200 three-point field goals.
Gates graduated from Kent State in 2006 with a degree in leisure studies and earned his master’s degree in sports administration from the same institution in 2007. He was a MAC All-Academic selection.
Gates prepped at Hillcrest High School and spent one season at Brewster (N.H.) Academy before attending Kent State. Gates’ older brother, Dennis, is an assistant coach at Florida State.
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