Men’s basketball adds four out-of-state recruits

As he prepares to tip off a 2020-21 season in which his team will have six seniors on the roster, Texas men's basketball head coach Shaka Smart announced the signing of four recruits (photo courtesy of

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart announced the signing of four standout recruits Wednesday. 

The Longhorns’ incoming recruits are guards Tamar Bates of Kansas City, Kan., and Emarion Ellis of Davenport, Iowa, and forwards Keeyan Itejere of Knightdale N.C., and David Joplin of Brookfield, Wisc.

“We’re very excited about the four young men who have chosen to join our Longhorn basketball family,” Smart said. “First off, all four share a high degree of receptivity that will allow them to take advantage of coaching and progress quickly at the college level. They each bring distinct elements and a variety of talents to our program. All four possess tremendous character, come from a strong family background and fit very well with who we are.”

Bates (6-5, 180) is playing his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. As a junior at Piper High School in Kansas City, he averaged 22.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game while leading Piper to a 21-1 record and a spot in the Class 4A state championship game, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He hit 58 percent of his field-goal attempts, including 44 percent from three-point range, and 88 percent from the free throw line in his junior season.

"Tamar is a tremendous competitor with a versatile skill set on both ends of the floor," Smart said. "He brings incredible spirit and energy to the court which will allow him to make a smooth and immediate transition."

The 6-5, 175-pound Ellis also will play at a new school, Davenport’s Assumption High School, in his senior season. As a junior at Davenport Central High School, he averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

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“Emarion is a very unique player with tremendous upside," Smart said. "His combination of size, length and play-making ability will allow him to be very effective in our system."

A 6-9, 190-pound forward from Grace Christian School in Raleigh, N.C., Itejere averaged 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a junior while helping his team to a 21-12 record and the second round of the Class 3A state tournament.

"Keeyan is a terrific mover for a player of his size," Smart said. "His ability to sprint the floor, finish above the rim, block shots and defend players at various positions make him a very unique prospect."

At Central High School, the 6-7, 215-pound Joplin averaged 23.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and hit 38.5 percent of his shots from three-point range last year en route to earning all-state honors. Central posted a 24-1 mark and qualified for the state sectional final before the season was canceled due to the pandemic. 

"David is wired to score," Smart said. "His combination of size, shooting touch and basketball feel make him a versatile offensive piece who we can play at a variety of positions." 

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