Clayton Bates was born and raised in Gainesville Florida. Growing up in his native home town, it was always his life long dream to attend the University of Florida and become a Gator. Luckily, he was able to make that dream come true in 1992 when he joined the Gator men’s basketball team under head coach Lon Kruger. After having been successful at the University of Florida, he started in coaching and that has culminated in Bates now named the 14th head coach of Western Michigan men’s basketball.
Life as a Gator
Bates made history along with Coach Lon Kruger and the Florida men’s basketball team in ’94. This year marked the 26th anniversary of Florida’s first Final Four Team.
Bates says there were so many great memories being at Florida. The biggest he says was bringing home that NCAA Final Four title.
“The ’94 Final Four team definitely has to be the high mark of my career there. The experience. Getting to that level on that stage. Also being the first team in Florida’s history to be able to do it, was remarkable. It was a great experience,” he said during an interview on ESPN Gainesville’s Sportscene with Steve Russell.
Head Coach at Western Michigan
Bates first joined the Broncos in 2000. He has dedicated most of his career to the team and has played an essential role in the team’s success. In March of 2020, Bates was named the 14th head basketball coach at Western Michigan.
“I am thankful for the opportunity from our athletic administration and our University. It was very humbling,” Bates said. The former Gator basketball player says he is now ready for the next journey in his career.
Do to the COVID-19 pandemic, players are currently home, but Bates says he has a strong team to look forward to coaching.
“We were able to sign four new players in about three weeks to rebuild the roster. We really like our group. We have a young team that’s talented.”
Bates was once a successful basketball player at the University of Florida. The head coach says the best part of being coach is feeling like you had an influence on the growth of your players.
“To watch the growth of them as a young man. To feel like you had an impact, that you had an influence… that is incredibly rewarding. “