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'It's not just a dream': New Mizzou hoops head coach Dennis Gates has big plans in Columbia

Dennis Gates has Mizzou basketball fans buzzing after taking over in Columbia. But the new head coach wants to make championships a reality for the Tigers.

ST. LOUIS — One thing new Missouri men's basketball head coach Dennis Gates is not short on is confidence.

The Chicago native has arrived in Columbia and promptly began restocking the cupboard, and getting fans fired up for the new era.

Once recruited by Mizzou legend Norm Stewart, Gates has shown he knows a thing or two about recruiting in his own right. But before he called any prospective Tiger, Gates made a call to Stormin' Norman himself.

"My first phone call was with Norm Stewart. And I'll give you a funny story. I asked him to be my assistant coach," Gates said laughing while in St. Louis earlier this week. "He declined, but having that established relationship is very important. Not just with him as a coach, all the formers. The former managers, the former assistant coaches, the former players... even the parents of those former players who still hold Mizzou in their heart. I think it's important to establish a relationship and reconnect with them, and that's something I'm excited to do."

When it comes to assembling a roster, Gates has had success in the transfer portal, and has some of his former players from Cleveland State making the trek to Mizzou as well.

The biggest addition by Gates may be a player who had already committed to the Tigers once before under Cuonzo Martin.

RELATED: Dennis Gates off to fast start in rebuilding Mizzou basketball

4-Star guard Aidan Shaw re-committed to Mizzou after talking with Gates, and the new coach knows Shaw could be a game-changer for the program.

"Aidan Shaw is an unbelievable young man, starting with his parents. Unbelievable people. I've enjoyed from day one getting to know them. My hat's off to the previous staff who did an unbelievable job recruiting him," Gates said. "I was able to establish a relationship, a plan for Aidan Shaw and I'm excited to share that plan with other young men we recruit. But he's an unbelievable young man with the tools and talent that will allow him to have an unbelievable future at Mizzou and beyond and I'm looking forward to being a part of that. He reminds me of those players that I've coached in my path that I one day sat in the green room with. So for me, having a young man in this first class is very important, with the caliber of which Aidan Shaw plays the game."

Before Cleveland State, Gates was an understudy to Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. Gates said his style and outlook have been shaped by his mentor.

"You've already seen it. I've learned a lot from Leonard Hamilton. He's my mentor. I've called him at 3 and 4 in the morning and he picks up on the first ring. You will always see that as it relates to just the relationship building, the respect for the tradition, the recruiting component, the x's and o's and the management style," Gates said.

When it comes to leading Mizzou, Gates is not shy on his ambitions. But he knows there's more to the college experience for an athlete, and that athlete's support system, than just winning.

"(I want a player of mine to say) It was the best experience that he could have signed up for. That I executed on the plan that I talked to them about at the very beginning. But also that he pushed me beyond my expectations and my limits. We won championships, plural. I think that's important, but also he's a guy that will always be in my life," Gates said. "As it relates to the young man, but also the parents, the coaches and the high school coaches. You have to recruit the village and I want them to say the same. That coach did exactly what he said. And this young man's dreams and aspirations did come true because of the Whitten Family head men's basketball coach at Mizzou."

Just mentioning Mizzou basketball winning championships could sound like a fantasy to most, but there's no hyperbole with Gates. That's his goal and he's sticking to it.

"It's not just a dream. One day it will be a reality. And it will be a reality with the young men that believe in me, the staff we've already put together but also our fans, their participation and their support which I definitely appreciate. And that dream one day is to win a national championship," Gates said.

You can see more of Gates' interview with 5 On Your Side's Frank Cusumano Sunday night on Sports Plus.

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