It is well documented at this point — Indiana guard Tamar Bates’ freshman season didn’t go according to plan.
His appearance in 32 games with 3.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest would have been a fine season for 95 percent of high-major freshmen.
But as a top-30 national prospect who wowed fans in The Bahamas last summer and started the season with double-figure points in three of his first eight games, the bar was set a bit higher for Bates.
And he would have been the first to tell you that.
If there was one thing Bates wasn’t in short supply of going into year one, it was confidence.
“I’m a firm believer in reps remove doubt,” Bates said in The Bahamas. “I work out a lot and I put the work in, and I feel like when I put that time in I have the right to be confident in my ability and believe in myself.”
But life dealt Bates some curveballs — the kind that can rattle even the most self-assured.
“The big thing with Tamar, he got derailed last season with a couple of family things that happened in his corner,” Indiana senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “That’s some things you can’t control, and it really messes up your mentality.”
The family things that happened are no secret at this point. Bates mourned the loss of a close family member, and became a father over the course of a few months.
There’s no way around it — that’s life altering stuff. But it hasn’t shaken Jackson-Davis’ belief in his teammate. When asked this week, he pointed to Bates as the Indiana player he believes will elevate his game the most in 2022-23.
“I think a name that’s gonna have a breakout season this year is Tamar Bates,” Jackson-Davis told Andy Katz with Big Ten Network.
“He’s someone that kind of never found his rhythm last year. I think he’s been just performing at a high level so far this summer. He’s been shooting the ball really well and he’s been a leader. So we’re gonna need that from him and I think he’s gonna be the player that’s gonna kind of stand out and we’re gonna be like, ‘Oh wow.’”
Jackson-Davis has said on more than one occasion Bates works as hard as anyone on the team on his development, and that includes spending part of this offseason training with NBA players.
For his part, Jackson-Davis said he plans to provide whatever support is needed to make sure his talented young teammate realizes his potential.
“I think he’s back,” Jackson-Davis said. “He’s got his head straight. He’s ready to get to work. He’s a guy that I was with all summer in the gym. He was trying to get better. As the season goes around, that mental aspect, you start to lose it a little bit, but I think this year, having one year under his belt, he’s going to be able to attack that and handle that, and I’m going to be right there helping him.”
See also: Summer development series — Tamar Bates
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