Original Article by: Bob Putnam and Rodney Page, Times Staff Writers
Matthew Bates, Academy at the Lakes
Matthew Bates had a decision to make at the end of his freshman year. He could stay at Wesley Chapel and likely play another season on the junior varsity team. Or he could transfer to Academy at the Lakes and likely see playing time right away. Bates chose to transfer, and it turned out to be a good decision.
In his sophomore season, Bates is averaging 10.4 points per game as a shooting guard. In the Class 2A region quarterfinal against Lakeland Victory Christian, Bates scored 19 points, including three 3-pointers, in a 76-60 win.
“I couldn’t be happier playing for coach (Tom) Haslam,” Bates said.
Bates has been a key contributor in the Wildcats’ 18-10 season. They went undefeated in Class 2A, District 8. Next up is Lake Wales Vanguard in the region semifinals. While the Wildcats have other scorers, if Bates can continue to remain hot as a shooter they can be very tough to beat.