JayhawkSlant - Tamar Bates will head to IMG Academy with something to prove
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Tamar Bates will head to IMG Academy with something to prove

Tamar Bates will leave for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on August 28
Tamar Bates will leave for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on August 28

Tamar Bates, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from Piper High School in Kansas City, Kan., had an unbelievable junior campaign. Bates, the No. 82 ranked player in the 2021 class, capped off his junior year as the winner of the prestigious DiRenna Award.

Previous winners include Wayne Simien, Conner Teahan, Ochai Agbaji, and Christian Braun.

The DiRwnna Award dates back to 1954. Dr. James DiRenna Sr. started the prestigious DiRenna Awards to focus on high school athletics and community. The award is presented to the top high school male and female basketball player in the Kansas City area.

Bates, who also served as team captain, set school records with 490 points scored and 21.3 points per game. He also averaged 5.1 rebounds, four assists, and 2.1 steals per game.

The Class 4A Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Bates shot 58 percent from the field, 46 percent from behind the arc, and 88 percent from the free-throw line.

As a sophomore, Bates was an all-state selection for the 4A state champion Pirates, along with his older brother.

Instead of adding to his legacy at Piper, Bates, a four-star prospect, has decided to make the move to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his senior year.

On Wednesday afternoon, JayhawkSlant.com caught up with Bates to discuss his move to IMG Academy, his recruitment, and more.

“I’m definitely looking forward to making the move to IMG Academy, just because I know what I’m going down there for,” Tamar Bates told JayhawkSlant.com during a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon. “I know that I’ll miss my family, my brothers, and my friends, but there is a much bigger picture, so I’m excited to get down there and get going.

“I don’t actually leave for IMG until August 28,” he added. “I know some of the guys on the team that I’ll be playing with, so I’m looking forward to getting down to IMG and getting started.”

Bates plans to visit Kansas in the future
Bates plans to visit Kansas in the future

Had Bates, the No. 22 ranked shooting guard in the 2021 class, ultimately decided to remain at Piper for his senior year, there’s no doubt that he would have been the cream-of-the-crop and top dog in the state of Kansas, especially in the senior class.

While at Piper, Bates had already accomplished all there is to accomplish, including a state championship and being tabbed the winner of the DiRenna Award. By staying, Bates would have only added to his legacy at Piper, but it’s the future, not the present, that has his attention now.

“I definitely just wanted to get out and play against the best competition,” said Bates when talking about his decision to attend IMC Academy. “I want to get better and do what I can do to best prepare myself for my freshman year of college. It’s hard to simulate the competition, the workouts, and the work you put in at a prep school than I would have had at Piper.

“I just wanted to go somewhere where the school could help me as much as I could help them,” he added. “I want to show people that I don’t just play at a high level against where I’m at in Kansas, but that I can play at a high level against anybody in the country.”

Bates, without question, has something to prove this season. When he leaves for IMG Academy, he’ll do so with every intention of making a name for himself on a national level. Bates, playing alongside the likes of Moussa Diabate, Efton Reid Charles Bediako, Eric Dailey, Jr., Jaden Bradley, Jett Howard, and Jarace Walker, will have every opportunity to do just that, and so much more, while playing with and against some of the nation’s elite prospects.

The move to Bradenton, Fla., is more of a business decision than anything else for Bates. He’s going to IMG Academy to face the best competition, to prepare his body for the grind of playing high-major Division I basketball as a freshman, and to ensure he’s ready to make an immediate impact, at the college of his choice, a year from now.

More than anything else, Bates is making the move to IMG Academy to work on and improve every aspect of his game.

“The biggest thing is just being able to do the same things with my left (hand) that I can with my right (hand),” said. “I’ve been working on it all summer and I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I just definitely want to get stronger in the weight room and put on more weight. I want to continue to become a better shooter and just being able to dominate on both sides of the floor.

“I feel really good about being able to shoot the ball, get to the rim, create, and be a leader at all times,” he added. “I’m left hand dominant, so like I said earlier, I’m just really working hard on being able to do the same things with my left hand that I can with my right hand.”

Currently, Bates is the No. 82 ranked player in the 2021 class
Currently, Bates is the No. 82 ranked player in the 2021 class

At some point in the future, possibly not long from now, Bates will be faced with another difficult decision. As it stands right now, he’s received scholarship offers from Abilene Christian, Alabama, Colorado, Creighton, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Missouri State, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, St. Louis, Wichita State, Virginia Tech, and Texas.

A number of other programs, including North Carolina, have reached out to Bates as well. Much of what happens next depends on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the United States. If college coaches are allowed to travel this fall and winter, the stands inside the IMC Academy will be packed with coaches from all across the United States.

If games are closed to the public, coaches will be forced to watch from a computer, which has been the case all spring and summer. Regardless, if Bates has the type of season he expects to have, his recruitment will likely reach new heights.

For now, Bates is still in the process of trying to decide what schools to visit.

“I’m starting to try and figure that out,” he said when asked if there are any schools he plans to visit. “I definitely have some schools that I know I will visit. I’m just really waiting on things to open back up. When that happens, I have some schools that I know I’ll visit.”

Is Kansas likely to receive a visit from Bates?

“Yes, Kansas is one school that I will visit,” he said. “I have a great relationship with the staff and Kansas and the guys. I live here, so I play with their players all of the time. I try to stay level headed about all of the schools, but KU is definitely a great program.

“I’ve really got the best relationship with Coach (Norm) Roberts,” he said. “He’s a real laid-back coach and he’s real goofy. We laugh all of the time. We get on the phone and laugh and have really good conversations. Of course, we talk about me going to KU, but it’s also about us getting to know each other more. Coach Roberts and I have a great relationship.”

When the time eventually comes for Bates to put an end to his recruitment, just like with the move to IMG Academy, he already knows what he’s looking for.

“Really, just going somewhere where the program, players and coaches are an extension of what I’ve been told my whole life,” he said. “I’d say, like an extension of my parents. Also, I want to go somewhere where I know it’s a good program and a winning program.

“I want to go somewhere where the coaching staff can develop guys at my position and develop guys that have a similar game,” he added. “I really want the best of both worlds, where it’s a good college and they have connections to get guys to the next level, which is the NBA.”