Report: Manny Bates possibly out for season with shoulder injury

NC State opened its 2021-22 season with a victory over Bucknell; however, the Wolfpack may have lost much more. According to a report from Joe Giglio, the redshirt junior center, who sustained an injury one minute into the season, is likely to miss the remainder of the season with a right shoulder injury.

This is a devastating blow for the program. Bates is the team’s best pro prospect and one of the team rim protectors in the country. On the defensive side of the floor, NC State switches 1-4 and drops the center in pick-and-roll coverages. The Pack funnel actions into Bates, one of the greatest shot-blockers in program history.

During the 2019-20 season, Bates led the nation with a 16 percent block rate. As a sophomore, Bates posted a 10.7 percent block rate, a top-20 number nationally.

Bates has developed a great deal on the offensive end. He started to show flashes of a low-post game last season — mixing in a right-handed hook shot.

More importantly, though, Bates is an excellent rim-runner, which is key component of one of the top high-volume pick-and-roll offenses in the country. Over the last two seasons, NC State has relied on Bates diving to the rim to bend opposing defenses and force rotations.

On paper, the plan for this season’s offense looked like a lot of Cam Hayes-Bates screen-roll action, with hybrid forward Jericole Hellems working as a dynamic small-ball 4. That plan will likely be thrown out the window.

During the offseason, Bates considered transferring out of NC State — possibly to play for Patrick Ewing at Georgetown. In fact, it seemed likely that Bates would leave. In late May, though, things shifted and Bates reaffirmed his commitment to NC State.

Without Bates, Kevin Keatts lacks a true post player with any real college experience. DJ Funderburk, a frontcourt force for three seasons in Raleigh, joined the professional ranks after the 2020-21 season.  Sophomore center Ebenezer Dowuona played only 48 minutes last season. Jaylon Gibson, a hybrid forward, played only 80 minutes as a freshman. Neither looked very comfortable on the floor last season, either. Ernest Ross — a bouncy (and incredibly raw) 6-foot-9 power forward — may be needed, too.

Dowuona played 25 minutes against Bucknell; he scored two points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. Gibson and Ross played a combined 19 minutes in the season-opener. Neither player scored.

As for Bates, this is an incredibly unfortunate development. He’s battled injuries his whole career; Bates took a redshirt during the 2018-19 season to recover from surgery on his left shoulder. Bates will now miss arguably the most important season of his basketball career — one that could’ve been used to solidify his talents as a future defensive-minded NBA rotation player.

The right shoulder has given Bates issues in the recent past, too. However, Bates played through those injuries, while working to remain on the floor as one of the top two-way post players in the country.


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