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Tate surges toward Division I coaching job

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Andre Tate played for Bob Huggins, worked for Mick Cronin and has a good rapport with Kansas State coach Frank Martin and Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy, both former Huggins assistants.

 

But Tate's not ready to call any of them for a job. Yet.

 

He will someday.

 

Tate's been working on building his coaching resume. Last weekend he added the most impressive line item to date, leading Cincinnati State to the championship game in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II tournament. The Surge lost 71-60 in the final to Lincoln (Ill.) College on Saturday night but finished 27-9, setting a school record for most victories in a season.

 

"I knew we were going to be pretty good, especially toward the end of the year," Tate said.

 

This is his second stint with Cincinnati State. He was an assistant for Eric Thomas, then head coach for two years before leaving in 2006 to join Cronin's first staff at UC as video coordinator.  After two years with the Bearcats, the Cincinnati State job opened again. Some officials at the school probed to see whether Tate was interesting in returning.

 

He was. In 2008, he was back in charge of the Surge.

"Those two years over there with Mick at UC helped my coaching a lot," Tate said. "Just strategic-wise - playing the chess game with the other team, seeing the things that they're running, how to take things away, how to create certain matchups for yourself, using the different personnel that you have.

"But I also wanted to be on the floor teaching and recruiting and stuff like that. I just thought I had more to give."

Tate's interest in coaching goes back to his playing days.

He came to UC from Kankakee (Ill.) Community College and started for the Bearcats in 1988-89 and 1989-90. Huggins became UC's coach in 1989 and moved Tate to point guard, where he averaged 17.1 points and 3.4 assists as a senior.

Huggins often told Tate that he'd be a good coach.

 

"I thought I would," Tate said. "I always prided myself in being a coach on the floor. When you're a good point guard, you think like the coach."

Tate played professionally in Puerto Rico, Finland and Turkey and completed the requirements for his UC degree in 1993.

In 2000, former UC assistant Larry Harrison, now on Huggins' staff at West Virginia, encouraged Tate to get into coaching.

And so the dues-paying started.

 

One year as JV/assistant coach at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago. One year as JV/assistant at Englewood High School. One year as head coach at Wendell Phillips High.

 

"It was exciting just coaching, being around the kids and being involved with basketball," Tate said. "That was the most satisfying thing to me when I first started, doing something that I really loved."

 

Then Tate left Chicago, moved to Cincinnati and was athletic director and a substitute teacher at Douglass Middle School in the Cincinnati Public Schools. At the same time, Cincinnati State was looking for an assistant coach. And in 2003-04, he joined the Surge staff.

 

A year later he became head coach. In his second season, he led Cincinnati State to a 26-9 record and a fifth-place finish in the national tournament.

 

In four years as a junior college head coach, Tate's teams are 87-48 (.644).

"I think I'm a good people person," he said. "I think people like playing for me. Kids play hard for me. I've been around. I'm from the inner city. I played JUCO basketball. I played Division I basketball. Kids just feed off of me.

"I want to be a Division I head coach. At the end of the day, that's where I want to be. My strength is working with kids and recruiting kids. I know what I bring to the table. I'm building up my resume."

And when he's ready, somebody's going to get a phone call.

 

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