Dennis Gates, Whitney Young, Class of 1998
August 12, 2009 by End to End
Dennis Gates was a key part of the 1998 Class AA state champion Whitney Young Dolphins. Prior to that championship, Whitney Young was never one of the first teams mentioned when going down the list of great teams in Chicago. Since then, they’ve been a powerhouse in the CPS. After graduating from Young, Gates played his collegiate ball in the Pac-10 at Cal. He has since gotten into coaching. His first job was at Northern Illinois, and now he is on Nevada’s staff as an assistant. End to End caught up with Dennis to talk about his IHSA days and what he has been up to since.
Talk about being part of the Whitney Young state championship team
First, you got to look at the friendships we had off the court. Me, Quentin Richardson, Cordell Henry; we all knew each other since seventh grade. When it came down to it, we all said we wanted to go to the same high school. It was a dream of all of ours growing up to win a state championship, and we did it.
Explain what your experience was like playing at Cal
It allowed me to grow a lot more than it would have had I stayed around my parents and support system. I basically had to learn on my own being thousands of miles away from Chicago at Cal. It was an unbelievable situation. Ben Braun and Charles Ramsey recruited me, but I also had a teammate from Chicago – Sean Lampley. I saw his success, and he encouraged me to look at Cal. It’s a great academic institution, and great basketball so it was the best of both worlds.
What has the adjustment been like from being a player to a coach?
For me as a player, I was always a leader on the team. Everybody knew growing up, except for me, that I’d be a coach. From Quentin, to my high school coach George Stanton, and Cyrus McGinnis, they all used to tell me I’d be a coach when I was 13. My hat’s off to those guys for seeing those qualities in me. Now as I take that side of the fence of coaching, I still have player and coach’s mentality.
Do you think your Young team was better than the Simeon’s state championship teams?
What you got to look at is this, and I’ll explain this to anybody, is the teams we had to go through. Now you have four classes, and we only had two. There was only one team allowed to come out of the city, and that was us. We went through Farragut, Simeon, Julian, Westinghouse, and Marshall. To be city champions was an honor. Downstate we beat Sean Harrington (Illinois) and Elgin, The Douglas boys at Quincy, and Rod Thompson (Iowa) and Joey Range (Iowa) from Galesburg in the finals.