Emoni Bates’ homecoming could serve as a collegiate reboot for him, as he works his way back up the draft ladder without the pressure of becoming a generational talent weighing on his shoulders.
In 2019 Emoni Bates, in a promising, yet risky move, announced his commitment to Memphis, choosing the school over powerhouse universities such as Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, and Michigan State University.
In 2022, Emoni Bates once again announced his commitment, this time to the much smaller program of Eastern Michigan University, choosing the institute over schools like Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Louisville. This announcement followed Memphis’ 78-82 loss to Gonzaga in 2022’s NCAA Tournament, ending Memphis’ season, and devastating the school’s fans.
The former top-3 recruit failed to impress both scouts and fans alike during his freshman season, averaging an underwhelming 9.7 points on 38.6% field goal shooting, and 3.3 rebounds in 18 games all while looking extremely uncomfortable on the court. In addition to his unimpressive play, Bates was concerningly underweight for his position, allowing other forwards to bully him on the wing and in the post. Bates showed little to no flashes of being a future lottery pick, struggling to mesh well with coach Penny Hardaway, and the 13th pick in the 2022 NBA draft, Jalen Duren.
Although Bates had an extremely disappointing freshman season, following his transfer to Eastern Michigan, he may have an extremely bright future ahead of him. Bates set his sights on a program in which he would likely dominate and raise his draft stock all while simultaneously appealing to fans, friends, and family in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan.
“I would be like the neighborhood hero. That would be crazy for me to be able to bring love to the city”, he told On3 in an interview regarding his college decision.
Bates’ return home means working in a familiar system where the offense is centered around him, and he has more input and influence on his future with the team. Bates also partners with friend and former high school basketball star Noah Farrakhan at EMU, a player known for elevating the skillset of those around him. With the past behind him and new beginnings ahead , Emoni Bates has the potential to be a star in the upcoming season.