GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Emoni Bates, the former five-star recruit and Michigan State commit, has reportedly declared for the NBA Draft.
Shams Charania, the senior lead NBA insider for The Athletic and Stadium, was first to report the news Monday morning.
Bates has been on the NBA radar for years now, even though he only played two seasons of college basketball. The 6-foot-9 forward starred as a freshman at Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti; playing well enough for Detroit News columnist John Niyo to openly question whether he could skip college altogether and head straight to the league.
His star shined even brighter the next year. Bates was named the national Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore and put on the cover of Sports Illustrated, drawing comparisons to superstars Lebron James and Kevin Durant.
The highly sought player originally committed to Tom Izzo and the Spartans before working to graduate early and reclassify to the 2021 class. According to 247Sports, Bates was the top prospect in Michigan, the highest-rated shooting small forward and the fifth-best player in the country.
Bates eventually committed to Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers but struggled in his freshman year. He played in only 18 games while dealing with a back injury, averaging 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist per game.
Bates hit the transfer portal the following offseason and eventually settled on his hometown team, Eastern Michigan University. He fared better in Ypsilanti, averaging 19 points and 6 rebounds across 30 games.
He also made headlines in an off-court incident. Last September, Bates was arrested on weapons charges after a gun was found in his car. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received 18 months of probation.
Draft analysts are split on where Bates could fall in the upcoming draft. Sports Illustrated and NBA Draft Room are both the highest on Bates’ potential, listing him as a potential late first-round pick. ESPN is the least bullish, listing him as a late second-round pick.
“There’s no reason to give up on the 19-year-old at this point, but he’s certainly not a lock to be taken in the first round of the upcoming draft,” Sports Illustrated wrote. “Bates is the type of player that could quickly rise up draft boards leading up to the draft. There will likely be teams in the 2023 NBA Draft that are willing to take a risk on him regardless, but others may only view him as a second-round project.”
The 2023 NBA Draft will be held June 22 in Brooklyn, New York.