Transfer’s path to UR hoops not typical
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.