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What makes Manny Bates so special?

The NC State transfer averaged 9.8PPG and 5.9REB, to go with 2.7BPG in the 2020-21 season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 02 NC State at Duke

Social media was hot with buzz after Butler landed Manny Bates. His commitment means so much to the future of the program. But why? What makes Bates so special? After all, he only averaged 9.8PPG and 5.9REB and is coming off of a severe shoulder injury.

The breakdown that Stadium has lists Bates as the 41st ranked transfer in the country, explaining that he is an “Excellent rim protector. Great timing when it comes to blocking shots and keeping the ball in play. High-percentage scorer who does not need or demand high-volume touches on offense.”

All of these evaluations can show what makes Bates an impactful center at this level. He doesn’t demand touches and is efficient when he gets the ball. Bates shot 65% and 64% from the field in his two seasons at N.C. State, both of which would rank in the Top 5 nationally, had he played in enough games.

Bates has a very high motor defensively and will block a ton of shots. Bates is an athletic big man and runs the floor very well, which opens him up for some easy buckets in transition.

Bates is very good at making the game easier for everyone around him. With his ability to defend inside, even if a guy gets blown by, the last line of defense is always there to alter shots. There’s a reason Bates was on the All-ACC defensive team back in 2020-21, the last full season he played. Bates also led the ACC in blocks per game in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, finishing in the top 11 nationally in both seasons.

Bates comes in and completely changes the trajectory of the defense next year. Butler has long been identified by its relentless defense, and that should remain the same with Bates in the fold. When Bates got hurt last season, NC State’s defense suffered tremendously. Bates played about one-minute last season, before tearing his ACL. In the 2020-21 season NC State’s defense ranked 87th according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which is nothing to write home about, but serviceable. The season before, KenPom had them at 79th, showing a pretty consistent floor with Bates. Without him last season, N.C. State fell to 246th, comfortably worst in the ACC and the second-worst defense from any Power 6 school (ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) only besting Georgia, a team that won 6 games last year and fired their Head Coach. It’s very obvious how much Bates meant to their defense, he was the only reason it was staying afloat.

To a Butler defense that ranked 95th last season, adding a center as defensively stout as Manny Bates should only improve that. Butler has been missing a shot-blocking presence for a long time. The last time a Butler center eclipsed the one block per game mark was Tyler Wideman back in the 2015-16 season, a Butler team that won a game in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s statistics page doesn’t even go far enough back to show the last time a Butler center averaged 2 or more blocks a game for the entire season, something Manny Bates did very comfortably in his two full seasons at NC State, averaging 2.9 blocks in 2019-20 and 2.7 in 2020-21.

Bates probably ranks as the best shot-blocker that has ever put on a Bulldog jersey, something that shouldn’t be taken lightly for a program that has had as much success as Butler has had. Bates provides a dominant interior presence the Bulldogs were desperately lacking the last three seasons. This is a huge pickup for Matta and the ‘Dogs. Bates steps onto campus as a top shot-blocker in the country, something that opposing teams will have to struggle with every single game. If Bates can stay healthy, which has been a concern over the course of his career with his shoulder injury last season, and him redshirting his freshmen season because of an injury to his other shoulder, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the conference.