No. 21 – Lincoln Railsplitters
Position: Small forward
Born/Date of Birth: January 28, 2004
Place of Birth: Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Parents: Elgin Bates, Edith Bates
Listed height: 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
High school: Lincoln Consolidated School
College: Michigan State (commit)
Career highlights and awards
Gatorade National Player of the Year (2020)
Emoni James-Wayne Bates (born January 28, 2004) is an American basketball player who attends Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A small forward, he stands 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) and weighs 205 pounds (93 kg). He is a consensus five-star recruit and the number one player in the 2022 recruiting class. Bates is committed to play college basketball for Michigan State. Analysts have called him the best high school prospect regardless of class.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bates was viewed as a top prospect since middle school. As a freshman at Lincoln High School, he led his team to a state championship while earning Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year honors. In his following season, Bates became the first sophomore to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award.
Early life and career
Bates was born in the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor. He began playing basketball from age three, often sleeping with a miniature basketball under his arm and dribbling around his house. In his childhood, Bates trained for basketball with his father, a former professional player, by shooting around and improving his agility through various drills. In fourth grade, he played against high school seniors at a rec league in Saline, Michigan and started competing on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) circuit. Bates also played soccer while in elementary school.
Bates first surfaced on the national radar in early 2016, after averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds per game for the Toledo Wildcats AAU team at a tournament in Chicago. He grew from 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) to 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) from sixth to seventh grade. Bates played basketball for Clague Middle School, where as a seventh-grader, he was rated the number one player in the 2022 class by recruiting website Future150. He averaged 46 points per game in seventh grade and sat out his eighth grade season to train individually. In the summer of 2018, Bates averaged 17 points per game facing older competition at the under-15 division of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), a notable summer circuit.
High school career
Bates enrolled at Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan, being drawn there because the head basketball coach, Jesse Davis, was a longtime teammate and friend of Bates' father. On November 26, 2018, Bates made his freshman season debut, recording 32 points and 15 rebounds in an 80–69 win over Ann Arbor Huron at the Ypsilanti Tip-Off Classic. On January 18, 2019, he scored a then career-high 43 points, shooting 13-of-27 from the field, in a 68–56 victory over Ypsilanti Community High School. Bates, on February 5, was ejected and suspended one game for his role in an altercation during a game versus Dexter High School. On February 18, he posted 36 points and 19 rebounds in a 73–65 win over Jackson High School to capture the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Southeastern Conference White division title.
On March 7, he led all scorers with 36 points and made the game-winning shot in an 81–79 victory over Detroit Catholic Central High School, as Lincoln claimed its first regional championship. Nine days later, Bates guided Lincoln to its first MHSAA Division 1 state title after scoring 23 points in a 64–62 win over top-seeded University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. He finished the season averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, helping his team to a 23–4 record. Bates was named Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year. He also earned Associated Press (AP) Division 1 Player of the Year and All-State first team honors. Mick McCabe of the Detroit Free Press labeled Bates as the "best freshman to ever play in Michigan," while Evan Daniels of 247Sports mentioned him as possibly the best high school prospect since LeBron James.
Entering his sophomore season, Bates appeared on the cover of the November 4, 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated. In his season debut, he scored 24 points but was held to 6-of-21 shooting in a loss to River Rouge High School. On January 17, 2020, Bates scored 40 points in a 67–38 victory over Dexter High School. He tallied 42 points on January 27 in an 83–56 win over Jackson High School. During the game, Bates wore a number 24 jersey to honor his childhood idol, Kobe Bryant, who had died in a helicopter crash in the previous day. On February 18, he established new career-highs of 63 points and 21 rebounds in a 108–102 double overtime victory over Chelsea High School. Three days later, Bates recorded 40 points and 12 rebounds in a 67–60 overtime win over Ypsilanti Community High School. On March 5, he had 48 points and 13 rebounds to lead his team past Catholic Central High School by a score of 79–48.
On March 9, during a win over Pioneer High School in the first round of the state playoffs, Bates was involved in a skirmish that resulted in a double technical foul and the ejection of an opposing player. He was unable to help Lincoln defend its Division 1 state title after the MHSAA suspended winter postseason tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a sophomore, he averaged 32.3 points, nine rebounds, three assists and 2.1 steals per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range, and led his team to a 19–3 record. Bates was recognized as Gatorade National Player of the Year, becoming the first sophomore to win the award, as well as MaxPreps National Sophomore of the Year. He was named Michigan AP Division 1 Player of the Year and Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year for a second straight season. After the season, Bates announced that he would attend a new prep school created by his father for his final two years of high school.
Bates is a consensus five-star recruit and the number one player in his 2022 class, according to major recruiting services. He received a scholarship offer from NCAA Division I program DePaul in eighth grade. After his freshman season in high school, Bates was offered by Michigan State, Michigan and Duke. By then, he was being touted by analysts and scouts as the top high school basketball prospect regardless of class.
On June 29, 2020, during a live interview on SportsCenter, Bates announced his commitment to play college basketball for Michigan State. He was drawn to the program by head coach Tom Izzo and the school's coaching staff, who had been building a relationship with him since he was in seventh grade. Bates became the highest rated recruit to commit to Michigan State in the modern recruiting era.
Bates' father, Elgin "E. J." Bates, played NCAA Division II basketball for Kentucky Wesleyan and played professionally for five years in Germany and Switzerland. E. J. manages the basketball training organization Bates Fundamentals and coaches its affiliated AAU team, which Emoni has played for. Bates' mother, Edith Bates, works for the American Red Cross and as a logistics supervisor for the United Parcel Service.
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