Trans­fer’s path to UR hoops not typ­i­cal

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS 2 - BY JOHN O’CON­NOR

The Univer­sity of Rich­mond’s first bas­ket­ball team played in 1913. It’s a fairly safe bet the Spi­ders never pre­vi­ously had a Yale grad­u­ate in the ro­ta­tion. And Noah Yates, who grad­u­ates Mon­day from Yale with an eco­nomics de­gree, is ex­pected to be a two-year player at UR. He turns 22 in Au­gust.

The strange tale of Yates, a 6-foot-5, 195pound for­ward known for his 3-point shoot­ing, be­gins with an overused right pitch­ing el­bow. Yates re­quired surgery as a ju­nior at New Jersey’s Point Pleas­ant Beach High School. A screw was used to re­pair the stress frac­ture.

Yates had been pri­mar­ily a base­ball player, part of the travel-team cir­cuit.

“Bas­ket­ball and foot­ball, just in the sea­sons I would play them,” he said.

Yates, also an ac­com­plished foot­ball and bas­ket­ball player in high school, went to Yale in­tend­ing to play tight end.

“Within a cou­ple of weeks of my fresh­man year, I got hit right where the screw is, and my el­bow cracked,” Yates said. He was in a cast for two months.

Yates re­quired a sec­ond surgery, and re­turned to Yale’s foot­ball pro­gram as a sopho­more. More el­bow is­sues fol­lowed, as did a third surgery. Yates missed

his sec­ond foot­ball sea­son.

“At that point, I was def­i­nitely a lit­tle frus­trated. I knew that my body was not re­ally suited for foot­ball,” he said. “I just felt like I needed to move on.”

Yates took a spring­break trip his sopho­more year and on TV watched Yale beat Bay­lor in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tour­na­ment. He was friends with sev­eral Yale bas­ket­ball play­ers, and knew that vet­eran team would have some ros­ter open­ings. Yates started play­ing spring pickup games with the Bull­dogs, and even­tu­ally was in­vited to join the pro­gram by coach James Jones.

“I can’t thank him enough for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity,” Yates said. “He told me when I walked-on to the team that I was never go­ing to play. I’d be a prac­tice player, work hard, and ev­ery­thing like that. I was happy to just be on the team.”

Yates, de­spite two years away from hoops, im­proved suf­fi­ciently that he played in 10 games dur­ing 2016-17. Last sea­son, he av­er­aged 17 min­utes, started twice and scored 5.4 points per game.

“I went to the (Yale hoops) games my fresh­man and sopho­more years. Ob­vi­ously, it’s eas­ier to watch and say I can do this and that, but once you get out there, there’s def­i­nitely a learn­ing curve,” said Yates, who wears a pro­tec­tive sleeve on his right el­bow, but has ex­pe­ri­enced no prob­lems with the arm in the past two years.

Ivy League rules pro­hibit col­lege grad­u­ates from play­ing sports at con­fer­ence schools. Yates said about 10 Divi­sion I schools showed in­ter­est in him as a grad­u­ate trans­fer. He vis­ited Rich­mond and Delaware.

Yates will pur­sue a mas­ter’s de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, with a con­cen­tra­tion in fi­nance. Though his case hasn’t yet been of­fi­cially ex­am­ined by the NCAA, he is ex­pected to have two sea­sons of el­i­gi­bil­ity, be­cause he par­tic­i­pated in only two col­lege bas­ket­ball sea­sons.

The Spi­ders’ ros­ter in­cluded a grad­u­ate trans­fer each of the past two years. Nei­ther 6-8 Kwesi Abakah (North­east­ern) two sea­sons ago, nor 6-8 Jor­dan Madrid-An­drews (Chicago State) last sea­son was a mean­ing­ful game-day con­trib­u­tor. Yates’ demon­strated abil­ity to shoot, pass and drib­ble on the D-I level, and Rich­mond’s need for ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, sug­gest he will be a dif­fer­ent story.

In many ways, Yates al­ready is a dif­fer­ent story.

An in­jured el­bow at Yale led grad­u­ate trans­fer Noah Yates to give up foot­ball.

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