RALEIGH, NC — After missing the end of the offseason practice and the two exhibition games leading up to the 2021-22 season due to a lingering shoulder problem, Manny Bates earned the start in the season opener against Bucknell. Less than a minute into the game, Bates had to leave with a right shoulder injury and immediately walked off the field into the dressing room.
Later in the first half Craig Hammel of NC State Athletics announced that Bates would not be returning in the game. There is no announcement on his status at this time, but head coach Kevin Keatts did offer an update following the 88-70 win over Bucknell.
“I don’t want to speculate about anything. I’ll wait, he’ll have an MRI done and once we get any kind of results and I talk to him and his family we’ll share it with you, but I don’t know anything,” Keatts said. I don’t want my mind to go to the worst situation. I have no idea what the situation is, I’m just looking forward to getting the results and I will continue to pray for him.”
If there was one player on NC State’s roster he just couldn’t afford to lose, it was Bates. Heading into the 2021-22 season, Bates was the second leading scorer to return to the roster (9.8 ppg), leading rebounder (5.9 rpg) and leading the ACC in blocks for the past two seasons, averaging 2 .7 last season.
Even before the game got underway, Keatts said during his pregame presser that he wasn’t sure how much his big man would play.
“I don’t know how many minutes he’s going to play,” Keatts said. “It’s usually a matter of flow that goes from game to game. It depends on how many mistakes he’s made or how he plays. But it was good to get those other two guys some experience. Both guys had the chance to in the scrimmage and the exhibition, when I didn’t need Manny in that.”
With Bates off the field, he was replaced by a combination of sophomore centers Ebenezer Dowuona and Jaylon Gibson. But neither comes close to Bates’s experience, nor does the scoring insight and physicality come into play. Dowuona stepped up with 10 rebounds and two blocks, but only finished with two points in 25 minutes of play.
Along with the two centers, NC State is the size with 6-foot-7 forwards Dereon Seabron and Jericole Hellems to compete in non-conference play. But if Bates is out for an extended period of time, it could be a huge loss against Power 5 opponents and ACC competition as the season progresses.
Pack Pride will have more on Bates’ injury, along with the outcome of the game against Bucknell during the night.
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