Normally when freshmen step onto campus, they are timid and unsure of themselves.
Don’t count Indiana guard Tamar Bates in that category.
His teammates certainly don’t.
“Tamar Bates’ confidence, I noticed it the first day he stepped on campus. He’s one of the most confident kids that I have been around,” senior forward Race Thompson said of Bates on a Zoom conference with the media on Thursday.
That confidence was on display early in the first half of the season opener Tuesday against Eastern Michigan. Moments after checking into his first college game, Bates quickly fired a pull-up three-pointer from the top of the key. Although it did not fall, his lack of hesitation told a story. Moments later on an out of bounds play, he slithered off a screen and rose to nail a baseline jumper for his first points as a Hoosier.
Bates’ full repertoire continued to be on display in front of the packed Assembly Hall crowd. Nicknamed “Scoop,” from his mom after the DJ Fat Man Scoop, Bates glided down the left side of the lane through traffic before finishing with, what else, a scoop layup.
First bucket as a Hoosier. 😁 pic.twitter.com/1SVwtVKWdu
— Tamar Bates (@tbates_11) November 10, 2021
Despite playing in front of the biggest crowd in his young basketball life, there were no signs of any first game jitters.
“All this is, is basketball. That’s what we came here to do,” said Bates of the lack of nerves he felt in his debut. “Obviously, the fans are back and everyone’s going to be loud and excited but we came here to execute a game plan and win the game.”
Bates finished the game with six points and two rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
The confidence that the IMG Academy product carries has led him to be unafraid to assume a leadership role this early in his collegiate career. But then, Bates has always been ahead of that curve in that regard throughout his life.
From a young age, Bates’s leadership has been apparent, a manifestation with both innate and learned aspects. The Kanas City, Kan. native was told by many of his teachers that he was a natural-born leader and carried himself with grace. His parents have greatly influenced his leadership style by teaching him to be sure of himself, among other lessons.
“Be someone who not just talks about doing something but actually that shows it by example. Just always putting in the work and what ever you want to do, you can do.” Bates said were other lessons his parents taught. “You just have to do the hard part, which is put the work in and go through that slow grind process.”
Bates’ leadership is something he takes great pride in as he is heard throughout Assembly Hall hollering instructions and inspiring his teammates with words of encouragement. He does not just do this during the game, but also pregame and in practice.
However, just like every teenager, Bates is still learning how to lead maturely. He is still learning how to get the best of each player without overstepping any boundaries. He is still learning to lead the team without interfering with the experience hierarchy. He also knows that he needs to continue to play hard to have his voice be heard.
Like any good leader, Bates knows he has to show his teammates he is fully committed, and more about the grind than the glory. That part comes easy for Bates, who likes to say that repetition removes doubt.
“The way that I try to go about it is just to show with my play because I didn’t really have a voice coming in.” Bates said. “I mean I do but that’s something that comes along with you playing well and showing the guys that you’re dedicated and you’re as locked in as anyone else on the team.”
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