Cleveland State's Dennis Gates has emerged as the target in Missouri's men's basketball search, sources told ESPN on Friday night.,
A deal isn't done, and there's still administrative steps to take, but sources said there's clear mutual interest between both parties.
Gates won back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles at Cleveland State, and took his team to the NCAA tournament in 2021. He spent eight seasons under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, where he established himself as one of the country's top assistant coaches.
In Gates' three seasons at Cleveland State, he went 50-40 overall and 38-21 in league play.
His experience at Florida State and three successful seasons at Cleveland State made Gates one of the most sought-after coaches in the current coaching carousel, as he drew interest from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and a majority of the open major conference jobs.
Gates, 42, would replace Cuonzo Martin, who went 78-77 in his five seasons at Missouri. He's the first marquee hire in a revenue sport for first-year athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, who arrived at Missouri in August.
Gates would take over a proud program that's faded from relevancy in recent years, as the school hasn't won a game in the NCAA tournament since 2010. Three consecutive Missouri coaches -- Frank Haith, Kim Anderson and Martin -- failed to win an NCAA tournament game. The school has never reached a Final Four.
Gates is a Cal graduate and was a solid player there, as he started 34 games and was a three-time captain. He's a Chicago native and starred at Whitney Young High before heading west for college.
His assistant coaching career included a stint with the LA Clippers as a skill development coach and then assistant-coaching stints at Marquette, Cal, Northern Illinois and Nevada before joining Hamilton's staff.
At Florida State, Gates' reputation grew in part because of his success as a recruiter. He helped recruit future NBA lottery pick Jonathan Isaac and high-end recruits like Dwayne Bacon, M.J. Walker and Terance Mann. He emerged as a key staff cog as Hamilton built Florida State into an annual NCAA tournament team and ACC title contender.
At Cleveland State, Gates took over for Dennis Felton on July 26, 2019, an unusually late time in the coaching cycle to take over. Felton left a wheezing program that lost eight straight conference games to open his final season in 2018-19.
Gates immediately injected an adrenaline shot into the program, quickly upgrading the roster and altering the trajectory of the program.
Cleveland State went 16-4 in the Horizon League in 2020-21 and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Gates' team did the same this season, winning the league and finishing with a 15-6 conference record.
Gates' wife, Jocelyn, is a senior associate athletic director at Ohio State.