Bates, who was ranked first in his class, spent last season at Memphis.
Emoni Bates, a former five-star prospect who was regarded as having a tremendous basketball talent at a young age, revealed on Wednesday that he was leaving Memphis and going back to play for Eastern Michigan in his home state. Bates reclassified up and enrolled with the Tigers, spending one season there. After escalating rumours regarding his basketball future, including a potential return to play for Memphis and interest from a number of high-major suitors, he decided to transfer. Recently, Louisville seemed to establish themselves as a legitimate contender.
Bates made his first early commitment to play in his native team Michigan by committing to the Michigan State team under the leadership of Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo in June 2020. In April 2021, that pledge fell through, which resulted in a decommitment. Along with previous No. 1 prospect Jalen Duren, who also reclassified and enrolled, his commitment to Memphis was thought to help the Tigers build a powerhouse team in the AAC.
Although Bates was once regarded as the top potential in the sport, regardless of age, a super team never materialized and neither did his basketball credentials. He shot 32.9 percent from three-point range and 38.6 percent from the field, averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. Memphis played like one of the top 10 schools in college basketball even though he missed the last stretch of the season with an injury.
Bates was ranked first in his class and at various points drew comparisons to Kevin Durant, so while it is odd to see someone of his caliber and background enroll at a school like EMU, his recent success shows it is not a major surprise. He reached a plateau as a prospect near the end of his high school career and had productivity issues while attending Memphis. He obviously possesses the size, scoring, and athletic skills to become an NBA superstar, but he hasn’t quite put it all together the way he did when he was a young adolescent.
Bates could merely need to restore both his game and his credentials as an NBA prospect if he went back to Michigan and played there again, but this time against neither Michigan State nor Michigan. He will be joining a club in the MAC with low expectations that finished 10-21 last year, and will likely be used as the team’s obvious No. 1 weapon both on and off the field. At Memphis, he only experienced this briefly due to a persistent injury.