Emoni Bates commits to East Michigan: Former Memphis five-star transfer returns to play home state

Tennessee Tech v Memphis
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Former five-star recruit Emoni Bates, who was considered a prodigious basketball talent at a young age, is transferring from Memphis and returning to his home state to play for East Michigan, he announced on social media on Wednesday. Bates spent one season in Memphis after reclassifying and enrolling with the Tigers. The transfer comes amid mounting speculation about his basketball future, including a possible return to play for Memphis and interest from a number of other big suitors. For the past few days, Louisville looked like a real contender.

Bates initially pledged to play in his home state of Michigan at an early age by swearing his allegiance to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo and his Michigan State program in June 2020. That commitment failed in April 2021, leading to a cancellation. His dedication to Memphis alongside former No. 1 recruit Jalen Duren, who also reclassified and enlisted, would help the Tigers build a super team in the AAC.

A superteam never blossomed, and Bates’ basketball bona fides—having once been considered the best prospect in the sport, regardless of age—nearly never quite materialized. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and shot 38.6% from the field and 32.9% from a 3-point range. While he spent the stretch run of the season injured, Memphis played as one of the top 10 programs in college hoops.

While it’s kind of strange to see someone of Bates’ caliber and lineage land in a place like EMU — again, we’re talking about a prospect who was number 1 in his class and drew comparisons to Kevin Durant in several ways — its trajectory over the years suggests it’s no big surprise. Towards the end of his high school career, he reached a plateau as a prospect and struggled with efficiency while in Memphis. He clearly has the size, scoring ability and physical resources to develop into an NBA star, but he’s yet to piece it all together the same way he flashed as an early teen.

A return to Michigan, playing neither for Michigan State nor Michigan, could be exactly what Bates needs to rebuild both his game and his credentials as an NBA prospect. He will join a team that went 10-21 last season and will likely show him on and off the ball as a clear No. 1 weapon – something he only enjoyed in spurts in Memphis, in part due to a nagging injury – on a team with relatively low expectations in the MAC.

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Emoni Bates commits to East Michigan: Former Memphis five-star transfer returns to play home state

Tennessee Tech v Memphis
Getty Images

Former five-star recruit Emoni Bates, who was considered a prodigious basketball talent at a young age, is transferring from Memphis and returning to his home state to play for East Michigan, he announced on social media on Wednesday. Bates spent one season in Memphis after reclassifying and enrolling with the Tigers. The transfer comes amid mounting speculation about his basketball future, including a possible return to play for Memphis and interest from a number of other big suitors. For the past few days, Louisville looked like a real contender.

Bates initially pledged to play in his home state of Michigan at an early age by swearing his allegiance to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo and his Michigan State program in June 2020. That commitment failed in April 2021, leading to a cancellation. His dedication to Memphis alongside former No. 1 recruit Jalen Duren, who also reclassified and enlisted, would help the Tigers build a super team in the AAC.

A superteam never blossomed, and Bates’ basketball bona fides—having once been considered the best prospect in the sport, regardless of age—nearly never quite materialized. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and shot 38.6% from the field and 32.9% from a 3-point range. While he spent the stretch run of the season injured, Memphis played as one of the top 10 programs in college hoops.

While it’s kind of strange to see someone of Bates’ caliber and lineage land in a place like EMU — again, we’re talking about a prospect who was number 1 in his class and drew comparisons to Kevin Durant in several ways — its trajectory over the years suggests it’s no big surprise. Towards the end of his high school career, he reached a plateau as a prospect and struggled with efficiency while in Memphis. He clearly has the size, scoring ability and physical resources to develop into an NBA star, but he’s yet to piece it all together the same way he flashed as an early teen.

A return to Michigan, playing neither for Michigan State nor Michigan, could be exactly what Bates needs to rebuild both his game and his credentials as an NBA prospect. He will join a team that went 10-21 last season and will likely show him on and off the ball as a clear No. 1 weapon – something he only enjoyed in spurts in Memphis, in part due to a nagging injury – on a team with relatively low expectations in the MAC.

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