MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former Memphis Tiger men’s basketball All-American center and later head coach Wayne Yates passed away Aug. 16 in his hometown of Natchitoches, La. He was 84.
Yates arrived at the University of Memphis, then Memphis State University, in 1959 and played his junior and senior seasons for the Tigers after transferring from New Mexico State. As a senior, Yates was named an All-American after averaging 17.5 points and 14.4 rebounds per game, and he was drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1961 NBA Draft.
Yates entered the coaching profession in 1969 as an assistant coach under Tiger head coach Moe Iba, and he then served as an assistant coach under Gene Bartow for four seasons from 1970-74. Bartow, Yates and the Tigers were the NCAA runners-up in 1972-73 and went 83-32 overall in the four seasons.
Yates then took over the helm of the Tigers, where he went 93-49 in five seasons from 1974-79, and by doing so became the first of three former Tiger cagers to later become head coach at Memphis (Larry Finch, Penny Hardaway).
Yates was inducted into the University of Memphis M Club Hall of Fame in 1993.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Harriet Ardala “Dala” Harding Yates, and is survived by his four children, Dawayna Dare Yates Sanders Christman, Wayne Edward Yates, Jr., Kathrin Ellen Yates and Mary Elizabeth Yates, his younger brother, Herbert Wayne Yates, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to the American Cancer Society or to a local high school basketball program.