In October 2019, a certain 15 years old, Emoni Bates was featured on the cover of the famous magazine, Sports Illustrated.
Those were the exact words written beside Bates’ face. The article started with “Magic, Michael, LeBron … And the 15-year-old who’s Next in Line.” In the same article written, the renowned Basketball Journalist, Michael Rosenberg, called Bates “the best player I’ve ever seen.”
Emoni Bates announced his commitment to Eastern Michigan in June 2022 when he is 18 years old. There, he would attempt to recover from what has been dubbed the most disastrous season in college football history. The three years that have passed for the former golden boy, who has evolved into a player that essentially no relevant program wanted to invite to campus this summer.
What actually happened to Emoni Bates?
Bates was rated as the top prospect in the Class of 2022 less than a year ago. He later changed his class to 2021, where he remained in the top five alongside the players who had just been selected first (Paolo Bancher), second (Chet Holmgren), and seventh (Shaedon Sharpe) in the 2021 NBA Draft, and was subsequently courted by Penny Hardaway to join the Memphis Grizzlies. The same Penny Hardaway allegedly informed Emoni Bates less than a year later that his one season in Memphis would be his final one. And while Wednesday’s dedication to his hometown school has been spun by some as a feel-good tale, the truth is that it is merely a tale because Bates’ options have become increasingly limited lately.
He wasn’t wanted in Memphis. In Louisville, he wasn’t wanted. He wasn’t wanted by Michigan.
Why Michigan is not such a Good Idea
Bates revealed his commitment to Eastern Michigan, which hasn’t had a winning record since 2018. Earlier this summer, Bates stated that his “primary aim” was to attend a school where he could win. Last year, the Eagles had a 10-21 record and were ranked 316th by KenPom.com. Since 1998, they haven’t advanced to the NCAA Tournament. They are currently ranked 262nd in the preseason standings on BartTorvik.com.
By the way, that wasn’t meant as a dig at Eastern Michigan. I merely type these things to show how far Bates’ career has deviated since being featured on that Sports Illustrated cover. For Bates and everyone who contributed to his downfall from then to here, especially his father Elgin Bates, who is one of the main reasons relevant programs generally avoided the area this summer, it should be a genuine wake-up call.